Mommy Gen — A Matriarch Sets the Tone for the Future

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At a time when there were no female bus drivers in Antigua, Pauline ‘Mommy Gen’ Francis became the first woman to gain a bus driver’s license. She’d transport patrons at Newfield and Liberta to St. John’s and her bus was always first to be filled at East Bus Station. She hurdled gender barriers too, becoming the only woman who operated heavy-duty equipment such as backhoes and tractors, and she even worked the stone crusher at Burma Quarry.

She was a Jane of all trades-and master of all.

She was actively involved in the Junior Red Cross Society, St. John’s Ambulance Brigade, CPTSA Wings Sports Club and was a Past President of the Antigua and Barbuda Sickle Cell Association.  Pauline was also an honorary member of JCI Antigua (Jaycees) and the Purple Dragon Karate School.

Locally, the name ‘Generis’ is synonymous with generosity. And that’s exactly what Pauline was – giving. Giving of her time, her resources, and most importantly, her love. In countless ways, she gave back to her community as well: during her younger years, she was the village hairdresser, seamstress, wedding cake caterer, plant nurse, and type writing school proprietor and teacher.

When she met her husband Glasford Francis in 1961, they started Kennedy’s in 1962 – which now consists of several other companies. Her philanthropic nature was passed on to her children, who then passed it on to their children, which is why today, Kennedy’s prides itself on giving back to their communities and to the nation at large.

When plans to open a Kennedy’s branch in town came to fruition, Pauline transitioned into working full-time with her husband. She became the Company’s spokesperson, and was pivotal in acquiring the building, formerly AT&LU, for Kennedy’s operations.

She created and maintained networking relations with overseas suppliers, and often traveled to do business on Kennedy’s behalf. On one such occasion, she traveled to Guadeloupe seeking to acquire a major brand. She was unsuccessful. You’d think this would stop her, but it didn’t. She decided to make an attempt in Paris, France before returning home. Unprepared for the weather, and completely unfamiliar with the territory – she prevailed. Using the Yellow Pages, she contacted a supplier in Bordeaux, France, flew there, and later obtained one of our leading brands. To this day, the brand is still carried by Kennedy’s and both companies have maintained a mutually beneficial relationship.

Pauline also traveled to St. Maarten, Puerto Rico, Dominica, Curacao, and the United States, and established long-lasting business relationships with various companies. Through her efforts, Kennedy’s continues to offer a diverse selection of products.

Pauline was the biological mother of 9; grandmother of 22; great-grandmother of 4, and raised 34 other children.  She was devoted to her church, Cashew Hill Moravian, where she served in all aspects of church duties as Sunday School Teacher, Sunday School Superintendent, Lay Academy Member, Past President Women’s Fellowship, Youth Counselor, Bethlehem Moravian Seminary (Antigua Conference), and Elder (Lay Preacher). In 2006, she was honoured for her contribution to business, by her alma mater the Antigua Girls’ High School.

In 2008, she received a National Award, the Grand Cross of Most Illustrious Order of Merit, for entrepreneurship and her contribution to the community and country.  •

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