RODERICK ANTHONY JOSEPH FORTUNE
MARCH 13, 1945 - FEBRUARY 3, 2016
Roderick Anthony Joseph Fortune was born in the village of Pointe Michel on March 13, 1945. He was the third child of Leopold and Marie Fortune nee Myer. Roderick grew up in Pointe Michel where he was affectionately known as “Joe”. At an early age Roderick was given a nickname of “Joe Gros Tete”. In his true typical style he used to reply “It is brains that is in head”.
He attended the St. Luke Primary School and later the St. Mary’s Academy where he graduated in 1961 as one of its distinguished students and sportsmen. Roderick came from a humble background. Yet, seeing him going to St. Mary’s Academy so very well dressed with his head held up high, one would never imagine so. He was a role model and inspiration to his family and villagers. He then received a Government scholarship to the University of West Indies to pursue an Associate Degree in the field of Medical Technology. He was recognised as the leading student in his class on his graduation in 1965.
It was during this initial course of study that Roderick formed a close association with Professor Louis Grant, a renowned Microbiologist and Pathologist. Professor Grant provided the inspiration that consolidated Roderick’s interest in the treatment, management and tracking of Tuberculosis, Leptospirosis, Dengue fever and other communicable diseases. A branch of laboratory medicine called Epidemiology.
With his newly gained technical knowledge and professional qualifications, Roderick started a career as a senior technician in the Government Laboratory at the Princess Margaret Hospital. By 1975, he had risen to the position of Laboratory Superintendent after completing additional study courses at University of the West Indies. The institute of Science and Technology in London, and Bromley College of Applied Technology in Bromley, England. With the support of his colleagues, he then embarked on a successful mission to modernise the laboratory both in upgrading the equipment and expanding its range of services.
Between 1982 and 1984, Roderick pursued a Master’s Degree in Public Health (MPH) in General Epidemiology from the University of Michigan, USA. Following graduation, he returned to Dominica and assumed the position of Epidemiologist in the Ministry of Health, a position he held until his retirement in 1995.
In 1992, along with his loving wife Deborah, Roderick took on the daunting task of pioneering the first full service private medical laboratory in the OECS region. La Falaise House Medical Laboratory first opened its doors on November 13th 1992, with a small staff and dedicated leader. The company quickly developed a reputation for its high standards – providing quality, efficiency and a range of routine and esoteric procedures. Given the limitations of the Government services, some of these services would have had to be sought overseas. The La Falaise House Medical Laboratory continues to function as an efficient and integral part of the healthcare landscape.
It was during his tenure as Epidemiologist that Roderick flourished as an accomplished and recognized academic. His research work on Typhoid, Streptococcal and Staphylococcal infections, sexually transmitted infections (STIs) and other communicable diseases, earned regional and international recognition. He gained international prominence through consultancies and assignments for Pan American Health Organisation (PAHO), the World Health Organisation (WHO), United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), the Caribbean Food and Nutrition Institute (CFNI) and various other international organisations.
Throughout his long and illustrious career, he authored and co-authored numerous publications and his body of work gained the admiration of health care professionals, both on the local and international spheres. He was competent in French.
When Ross University School of Medicine opened its doors in Dominica, Roderick’s leadership in the field of laboratory medicine and research expertise served him and our general community well. He joined Ross University in 1983, and was one of the first Dominican nationals to achieve a full professorship at the institution where he taught Laboratory Medicine and Epidemiology courses until his retirement in 2002.
Roderick’s outstanding record of personal achievements and international acclaim did not diminish his love for country. He was fully engaged in fulfilling his civic and corporate duties, and was actively involved in non-profit service clubs. He was the first Chairman of the Dominica Lotteries Commission and a stalwart of the Rotary Club of Dominica. During his tenure as president, he was the driving force in accessing the funding for the construction of the Psychiatric Ward of the Princess Margaret Hospital, and was the recipient of Rotary’s highest award – the Paul Harris Fellowship. In 2006, Roderick Fortune was nominated for Dominica’s Sisserou Award of Honour. He was the first Chairman of the President’s Charities Foundation – an organisation responsible for raising funds to support various charitable organizations islandwide.
In addition to being the consummate healthcare professional, professor, businessman and family man, there was a light side to Roderick. He was a keen sportsman who distinguished himself in the sports of lawn tennis, squash and Bridge. He was an amiable and social person, who had an unquenchable appetite for life, knowledge, food, drink, a good story and a great game. He was generous to a fault. He will be sadly missed. May his soul rest in peace.