Reverend Deacon Leviticus 'Lou' Adderley, O.S.B. (1934 - 2003)

Wed, Feb 4th 2015, 10:33 AM

Deacon Lou Adderley’s greatest fluency was his unbridled mastery of himself; whether as a man or as a builder of men; as a champion athlete or as the coach of champions; as a scholar or as a pedagogue of scholars; as a defender of his faith or as live testimony to that faith. In all these spheres, the colossal footprints which he managed to implant in the sands of temporal Bahamas are inversely proportional to his height, a subject on which he was dismissive. He repeatedly cited his epistle that the way to judge a man is to measure what lies between his eyes and his head, not the distance between his head and his feet.

Ordained a permanent deacon in the Roman Catholic Diocese of Nassau in 1976, Lou Adderley was born into beginnings less than humble but through his own industry, he soon cultivated a profound work ethic while serving as a ball boy at the “exclusive” Gym Tennis Club, reserved for the governing British aristocracy and their native counterparts. Located near his home, the Club was sited where there now exists the Esso Service Station on Wulff Road & Mackey Street. The Club richly exposed him to lawn tennis, a discipline in which he was to become a three-time collegiate champion. By the time he began primary school at Our Lady of the Holy Souls then, not only had he acquired the dignity of labour and the habit of work, lawn tennis served as the vehicle for inflaming his passion for competitive sport.

Our Lady’s School became the fountainhead of learning for Deacon Adderley and it is there that he acquired a genuine thirst for knowledge. The academic proficiencies he acquired at that institute propelled him into passing the intense entrance examinations in 1946 to what was then a fledging St. Augustine’s College (SAC), located in a four room house at the Priory Grounds of St. Francis Cathedral, West Street, long miles away from his home and facing fees beyond his family’s capacity. Deacon Adderley solved the first problem himself by building a scooter to transport himself to school and his pastor at Our Lady’s, Fr. Marcian Peters (1909-1983), resolved the second through a parish scholarship.

At St. Augustine’s, Deacon Adderley excelled academically and blossomed as an athlete under the keen eyes of the school’s first Sports Master (Director of Athletics), Fr. Elias Achatz, O.S.B. (1916 -1995) who established the deferential between play and sport at the new Fox Hill academy. A primary didactic of Fr. Elias that dominated the core of Adderley’s athletic life was respecting the integrity of a sport, that is, knowing and abiding by its rules, demonstrating sportsmanship in victory or defeat, and fidelity to training so as to enable one’s utmost performance. These were the traits which caused Adderley to excel in all the academic and athletic disciplines offered at the school, especially math. In fact, he gave supreme validation to the term, scholar-athlete, as verified by him graduating as Valedictorian of his Class in December 1951.

Blessed with another academic scholarship, Deacon Adderley matriculated to St. John’s University, Collegeville, Minnesota in 1952. Amazingly, his high school Principal, Fr. Frederick Frey (1907 -1963), brought the entire St. Augustine’s student body to the Oakes Field airport to see him off. Such an act by the Principal had never occurred and was never repeated. But in spite of that distinction, Adderley never relished it as such, in keeping with the modesty he coveted throughout his sober lifetime of monumental achievements.

With such a sendoff, the future deacon could not disappoint. And that he did not, for in the four years he was in college, he lost only one lawn tennis match and that was in the Conference Championships in his freshman year. In that match he dominated the first two sets, so much so that he experienced pity for his opponent and relaxed his intensity. This allowed his opponent to not only recover but to win the match and the singles title.

Adderley’s coach, James “Jim” Peyton and his priestly entourage were to give gave Adderley eternal hell for lacking what they termed a “killer’s instinct”. As a result of that experience, Fr. Elias’s protégé never lost another match in college, in the process winning the Conference singles titles in his three remaining years at St. John’s. There, he further distinguished himself as collegiate champion in Greco-Roman wrestling. Throughout all this, he successfully flirted with a perfect 4.0 GPA.

Upon Adderley’s return to The Bahamas in 1955 with a Bachelor’s Degree in Business Administration, his former Headmaster, Fr. Fredrick offered him a temporary teaching position at St. Augustine’s College. Adderley accepted the part-time job but was to remain on the staff for the rest of his life. His addition was meaningful to his students, not the least of which was the wrestling exhibitions he put on with his teaching peer and fellow St. John’s University alumni and football player, Rodger Ludwig.

A mat on the sports field was used during the daily three and one-half hour lunch/sports period. Ludwig was intimidating, having bent steel pickaxes with the brute force of his strength as he de-rocked the sports field. Adderley also conduct exhibitions with his 6’7” pupil, Alexis Neon Jr., who, with his father, lighting inventor Alexis Neon Sr., represented The Bahamas in Greco Roman wrestling at the 1968 Olympic Games.

Adderley’s return also permitted reactivation of membership in Fr. Marcian’s St. Bernard’s Sporting Club, starring on its baseball and basketball teams. In baseball, he played second base, with his brother, John in shortstop. The team repeatedly locked into annual legendary championship games with the storied Penny Bankers, a.k.a., I-Need-A- Laundry Baseball Club, led by Andre and Lionel Rodgers along with their other gifted brothers. Of significance here is that Adderley aimed at winning the Bahamas Baseball Association’s home run crown in 1960. He succeeded, just ahead of his fellow SAC alumnus, William “Zach” Patton.

Adderley also re-joined St. Bernard’s Basketball Club, made up primarily of St. Augustine’s alumni, i.e., Leonard Skinney Archer, Leroy Mitchell, Sylvester Ramsey, inter alia. That team was a perennial champion of the Priory Recreation Center’s Basketball League until 1960, when the SAC alumni members departed to form their own team, St. Augustine’s College Alumni (SACA). As if preordained by fate, Deacon Adderley’s SACA met and defeated St. Bernard’s for the championship later that year in a triple overtime game, with Sylvester Ramsey scoring the winning basket. Fr. Marcian Peters had previously said that he could not lose the title game since both his teams were playing for the crown.

Deacon Adderley also coached the championship St. Bernard’s women’s team, with two of his most prized players being Winnifred Bethel-Russell and a basketball wizard named Cynthia Moxey-Pratt who was to later develop into one of the finest multi-sport athletes ever produced by The Bahamas. She was additionally to become Deputy Prime Minister of The Bahamas. One year after claiming the Basketball championship, Lou Adderley’s SACA became a founding member of the Bahamas Volleyball Federation. That (SACA) team dominated local volleyball in the 1960s. He served as National Coach and player on the first volleyball team to represent The Bahamas internationally, at the Pan American Games in Winnipeg, Canada in 1967.

In his tenure at St. Augustine’s, Deacon Adderley taught his favorite subject, Math. He also succeeded Fr. Elias as Director of Athletes, having an unencumbered hand in producing many of the country’s finest athletes during the forty-four years that he served as Director of Athletics and/or Principal at St. Augustine’s College. With the firm support of Elizabeth Betty Cole. his female counterpart at Xavier’s College, he established the blueprint for the kind of academic and athletic excellence for which that institution has been so well noted. Cognizant of the small size of the student population at SAC in relation to that of competing schools, Adderley masterminded and then systemized his curricula and training regime to ensure optimum use of the limited human capital available to him in his narrow student demographic.

In the new paradigm, Adderley’s elite academy of two hundred boys was able to athletically dominated schools five times as large on a consistent basis, initiating a trend of success, which remains unabated. All this eventuated without compromise of the stringent principles established by SAC principals, Fr. Frederick and Fr. Elias. For example, on more than one occasion, and even after months of steadfast practice and preparation, Adderley disallowed more than one outstanding SAC athlete from their varsity teams even if their births occurred just minutes after the prescribed deadline. Sidney Obediah Absolom Stumblim Ramon Budts Outten can testify on this score.

As a parallel, George L. J. Wilson can affirm the Lou Adderley, the disciplinarian. The adolescent George failed an obedience test during expansion of the basketball complex and received a Lou Adderley facial. The emblem of St. John’s University was engraved on his face for some time, embedded there by Adderley’s white gold college ring. Assuredly, George was among a host of precocious boys who wore the St. John’s University emblem.

Among his extraordinary achievements was the production of a prominent line of female sprinters, one of whom never lost a single race in her five years of high school competition. He similarly produced a dynastic line of champion male scholar-athletes, from Olympian Hugh Bullard, Lloyd Stubbs and Dr. Ronnie “Conrad” Knowles to NFL standout, Ed Smith of the Denver Broncos, Olympian Fletcher Lewis and professional baseball players Wenty Ford and Vince Albury in the 1960’s and 1970’s. Also, in the 1980’s and 1990’s, he twice produced SAC girl’s basketball teams that went undefeated over a five year span. His other coaching exploits are of legendary proportions, inclusive of producing the greatest playmakers in local basketball history: i.e., Sharon “The General” Storr, Peter Brown, Fred Papa Smith, Basil Sands, John Todd, Philip Cabbage Poitier, Geno Nairn, Keith Belzee Smith, Van Delaney, Alexander Reckley, and Anthony Bando Bostwick, a perennial Lou Adderley captain.

As an internationally certified track & field coach and official, Adderley founded the Bahamas Association of Certified Officials in 1976. That initiative facilitated the ability of The Bahamas to host its first international track and field meet, the CARIFTA Games in 1976. He commenced a vibrant youth development program which has sustained the vibrancy of the organization into the present. He was also a founding member of the Bahamas Association of Basketball Officials, serving as national interpreter for the sport.

Of equal imperative is that Deacon Adderley was never afflicted with delusions of grandeur or illusions of persecution. He remained fully focused on the brotherhood of mankind, so much so that even after he became the first lay member of staff and Principal of St. Augustine’s College in January 1973, his humility and his humanity were not perturbed. Indeed, in his seventeen years as Principal, he continued to take daily lunch with students in the school’s cafeteria, at times providing for those unable to afford a square meal on the given day.

Accordingly, there was very little surprise when announcement came that the United Nations had honored him for services he compassionately rendered to refugees fleeing to The Bahamas to avoid persecution. He also received an O.B.E. citation from Her Majesty, Queen Elizabeth in 1993 for national youth development, particularly in the area of Boys Scouting, a vocation he pursued with his usual vim and vigor. His Excellency, the Governor General of The Bahamas posthumously inducted him into the country’s National Hall of Fame in 2003.

Indeed, in the rich translation of his life, Deacon Leviticus Lou Adderley acquired unbridled mastery of himself and never failed to impress the value of that virtue upon his countless protégés on and outside the campus of St. Augustine’s College. In that regard, self-evident is the conclusion that Fr. Marcian, Fr. Frederick, Fr. Elias, Fr. Alto and Brother Barnabas were accurate in their assessment of the sterling character cloaked within an underprivileged native boy dwelling in Johnson Alley and threatened with the curse of opportunities lost.

To the credit of those men of vision, that underprivileged boy maximized his talents and optimized his opportunities. Metaphysical poetry can therefore be read into the fact that the entire St. Augustine’s College student body was released to accompany him to the airport in Oakes Field and to celebrate his departure for college at St. John’s University in 1952. Fifty-one years subsequent, in 2003, the entire corpus of his St. Augustine’s College was again released, this time to celebrate his physical departure as they lined the route to his final resting place in an ordinary gravesite at St. Augustine’s Monastery. Indeed, this saintly man was truly a gift to the world and to his Roman Catholic faith.

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