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HomeNewsLocal newsOn Island Profile: Service Lights Up Carol Nelthropp’s Life

On Island Profile: Service Lights Up Carol Nelthropp’s Life

For Carol Nelthropp, life is action, not noise. The St. Thomas native has donated decades to family, church and community service, serving steadily whether she’s in the background or taking on leadership roles.

Born Carol Dompeniel, she met her husband, Aubrey Nelthropp, on a blind date when she was just 15. She married him in 1957, the year after she graduated from high school, and they’ve been partners ever since.

“He deserves a medal,” she said. Why? “Because he always says he does, and so I believe him.”

Nelthropp attended Sts. Peter and Paul Catholic School from kindergarten through high school.

“I went straight to work at the Virgin Islands National Bank right after graduation,” she said. She started as a file clerk, but soon was trained to be a teller. She worked at the bank – which became Chase Manhattan Bank and is now First Bank – until 1961, when she stopped to raise a family.

She worked as a “domestic engineer” for almost 15 years, and then, in 1975, she and her husband opened a business, Electronics Unlimited, and she was again working outside the home. She handled all the secretarial and office work, including payroll and taxes. The Nelthropps operated the aptly named retail outlet for almost 40 years, but with the advent of the Internet and cell phones, the market changed dramatically, so in August 2013, they closed up shop.

It was time to retire anyway, she says.

Retire, maybe, but it’s hard to think Nelthropp will ever be inactive.

“I’ve been in Catholic Daughters since 1970-something,” she said, and has held several officer positions in the group. The organization has members from all the Catholic parishes across the island, but it focuses much of its efforts on St. Peter and Paul Cathedral parish.

Members visit the sick and shut-ins regularly. At Thanksgiving, they make up and deliver specially prepared baskets of food and holiday cheer. They also conduct fundraising activities and “help the church whenever needed,” she said. “Whatever the bishop (Herbert A. Bevard) or monsignor (Jerome Feudjio, rector of the cathedral) need, our members come through.”

Another long-term commitment for Nelthropp is to the Rotary affiliate Inner Wheel Club. She joined in 1989 and has been president a couple of times, first in 1991-92 and again in 2013-14. She was one of four women who staffed the club’s hospital gift shop at Schneider Regional Medical Center.

The club used the proceeds from the gift shop to support the hospital’s pediatric ward, donating many thousands of dollars worth of supplies and equipment over the years. In 2012, the club turned over management of the gift shop to the hospital, but Nelthropp said it continues to support the pediatrics division.

Recently, Inner Wheel gave the hospital a warmer unit for premature newborns.

“It cost about $26,000” Nelthropp said, and “They needed it desperately.”

Inner Wheel contributes to a lot of non-profits, including the Family Resource Center, Catholic Charities, and the Methodist Center.

“We support women and children,” Nelthropp said.

The group holds fundraisers throughout the year. Its annual Moveable Feast is especially popular. A catered affair, it allows guests to move from table to table for each course of a multi-course meal.

The biggest event, however, is probably the beach picnic. For that one, “it’s all home-cooked” food, donated by Inner Wheel members and volunteers, Nelthropp said. “I do chili and rice, or I make baked beans … I’ve cooked all my life.”

Nelthropp also used to be an avid gardener and was a prominent member of both the Orchid Society and the Hibiscus Society. Her blooms often won awards.

“I swept the 1995 hibiscus show in Tortola,” she recalled.

That was when she lived in a home with a big yard in Estate Canaan near Drake’s Seat. When she and her husband moved to a condominium in Mahogany Run, she had to give up most of her plants. She gave up her membership in the societies then too, although she said she still attends the annual shows.

Very recently, she moved again to the northwest area of the island where she has more room and favorable growing conditions. It’s tempting to think of getting back into gardening, but, she said, she’s not so sure she can handle it now.

“Arthritis and sciatica kicks in and welcomes you to a different world,” she said. These days she’s using a cane, but that doesn’t seem to have slowed her down. You’ll still find her wherever the action is.

The Nelthropps have four sons, Edward, David, Philip and Mark, and 12 grandchildren, 11 boys and a girl. They celebrate their 59th wedding anniversary this week. 

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