Nation welcomes its newest centenarian

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Jane Lucreta Ryan
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Jane Lucreta Ryan today becomes the latest person in Antigua and Barbuda to reach the grand old age of 100.

Sarah Jane, as she is affectionately called, was born on December 21 1922 and was the eldest of four siblings. Her father, Luke Julius of St Kitts, and her mother, Priscila Fergus of Montserrat, met in the Dominican Republic.

After the passing of her mother, Sarah Jane relocated to Dominica and resided with three of her aunts. Sarah Jane became an Adventist and, after a series of meetings held by Pastor Gooding, she gladly accepted the call and was baptised as a teenager.

She was encouraged by many in Dominica to further her education at what was called “Caribbean Collage”, however, there wasn’t any permanent help from her family to pursue her studies.

After the passing of the aunt she resided with, she was taken in by another aunt, Ann Fergus, who lived in Montserrat. There she stayed and oftentimes she was also with her grandfather.

After moving to Montserrat, her aunt in America had hopes of adopting her and the thought of this had brought a huge level of financial relief but her main focus was on the Lord and to remain active in church.

It was at the early age of 17 she met and fell in love with James Ryan in Montserrat and at the age of 18 they were happily married. She made frequent visits to Antigua to be with her husband who was employed in Antigua at the time.

Their first child was born in Montserrat, and following this she made the decision to permanently settle in Antigua and Barbuda where she lived on Church Street and became an active member of the St John’s Adventist Church along with her husband.

They had four children – two boys and two girls. One of the boys died soon after birth and the other died in 2017. Her husband died on May 21 2003.

Sister Ryan, Sister Sarah and Mother Ryan are all names used to refer to Sarah Jane.

She was the first person to start the feeding programme called “The Dorcas Society” at the St John’s Church. She was an active Deaconess and choir member under Cuthbert Prince.  She was a children’s leader in Sabbath School and she was a part of the hospital group which visited every Sabbath afternoon with Brother Percy Brathwaite as a leader.

When her membership moved to the Villa Church, she worked even harder and continued to work with children and the Dorcas Society. She was an outstanding cook, baker, seamstress, housekeeper and businesswoman.

In the Villa community she was known as the ginger beer maker, ice cream seller, the frozen joy lady –  all treats which she taught herself to make.

Sarah Jane has been a strong believer in Christian education and she reached out to children in Montserrat who had to end their education in primary school and took them into her home so that they could attend the Seventh Day Adventist School in Antigua.

She has an open loving heart and a strong concern for the advancement of others. She’s described as not just a mother but a close friend, her children’s confidante, a motivator, a teacher, and an example of a true Christian.

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