#25 Sister Sister Mary Noel Menezes (WGH 1971-3; 1984-5)

We were sad to hear of the death of Goodenough Alumna Sister Mary Noel Menezes aged 92. Sr Noel was a prominent Guyanese historian and educator, who pioneered work in indigenous and Portuguese history.

Born in 1930, Sr Noel joined the Order of the Sisters of Mercy at the age of 17. She went on to become an Emeritus Professor of History, an author, a philanthropist, and the recipient of one of Guyana’s highest National Awards, the Order of Roraima, as well as the Golden Arrow of Achievement. She also received an Honorary Doctorate of Laws Degree from the University of the West Indies.

As a philanthropist Sr Noel was well known and loved for her work at St John Bosco Orphanage, for boys aged three to 16, which she ran from 1968 to 2003. She also founded the Mercy Boys’ Home in Georgetown in 2000 to help boys 16 and over, to transition to adult life.

In 1970, Sr Noel won a Ford Foundation scholarship to study for a PhD in history at the University of London. Living at Goodenough College she made many lifelong friends while she completed her ground-breaking dissertation on British policy towards Guyanese Amerindians in the 19th century.

Sr Noel taught at the University of Guyana for many years until her retirement, as a Professor of History, in 1990 at the age of 60. Sister Noel is remembered fondly by her students for “the rigor of her research, the breadth of her knowledge, the clarity of her instruction and the value of her advice”. She will also be remembered with great affection by the friends she made while living at Goodenough and during her regular short stays in the College.

A Portrait of Goodenough College (London: Third Millennium, 2011) includes a contribution from Sr Noel that shows her great sense of fun and delight in College life: “Another bit o’ talk around the Square was that I, a Religious Sister of Mercy, served at the bar! It became well known that I was the only bartender at the time who could mix a Bloody Mary – a favourite drink of the United States residents – so on my shift they came in full force!”