| Hon. Dr. Jane Ellen Mary Usher
Former Credit Union Pioneer, Cabinet Minister and a former President of the Senate, Belize
Dr. Jane Ellen Mary Usher was a Belizean credit union pioneer, politician, former Cabinet Minister, and a former President of the Senate.
Jane Ellen Mary Usher was born on 5 September 1917 on Pickstock Street in Belize City, British Honduras (now Belize) to parents William Cadle Price and Irene Cecelia Escalante. She was one of 11 siblings, the oldest being Rt. Hon. George Cadle Price – National Hero and former Prime Minister of Belize.
Dr. Jane Usher served Belize as a politician and area representative of the Pickstock constituency for two consecutive terms (1979 – 1989) for the People's United Party (PUP). She also served as a Cabinet Minister and as President of the Senate. She has also been recorded in Belize political history as embroidering the first Belizean flag.
Dr. Usher spearheaded a strong wave of women political consciousness in Belize during her tenure as President of the National Women’s Commission, as the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Violence Against Women (CEDAW) was adopted into policies and legislation in Belize.
In 1944, the Holy Redeemer Credit Union (HRCU), was established and Usher was employed as a clerk. By 1956 she was appointed as HRCU’s Chief Executive Officer (CEO). The work of “Ms Jane”, as she was popularly known at HRCU was legendary. She successfully lobbied for legislation to establish the Credit Union League of Belize. Ms. Jane vastly expanded the assets of Holy Redeemer Credit Union (HRCU), impacting positively upon the lives of thousands of Belizeans. She continued to serve as the Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of HRCU up to her death in 2018 at the age of 101. Ms. Jane had begun stepping back from the day to day operations of HRCU’s in December 2017.
Usher was also involved in politics. She served as a Cabinet Minister for Health and Cooperatives from 1979-1984 in the People's United Party administration. She later served as a member of the Opposition in the House of Representatives from 1984 to 1989. In addition, she served as the President of the Senate from 15 September 1989 to 1 June 1993.
Honours and awards
Usher has received numerous awards and accolades for her development of the credit union movement in Belize. In 2001, Usher was honoured with the Golden Eagle Award from the Belize Credit Unions League for outstanding service to the Credit Union Movement. That same year she was also honoured by the Belize Business Bureau for her contributions to women's development in business in Belize. In 2012, she received the Distinguished Service Award from the Jamaica Cooperative Credit Union League.
Usher became Director Emeritus of the Holy Redeemer Credit Union in 2012.
In 2013, Usher was awarded an honorary doctorate from Galen University for her long service to citizens of Belize.
In March 2017, the US Embassy recognized Dr. Usher as the Embassy’s Woman of the Year 2017 for her life-long contributions to economic empowerment and dedicated public service.
On 3 January 1942, she married the late Henry Charles Usher and the two went on to have 10 children - five sons and five daughters. She also had 34 grandchildren, seven great grandchildren and four great-great grandchildren
Usher died at 5:05 a.m. on 12 December 2018 surrounded by family. She was 101. She was accorded an Official Funeral on 18 December 2018 at the Holy Redeemer Church. Her body was interred at Price Bank at mile five on the Philip Goldson Highway where her family home is located.