Doris Esme Marshall was born on the 12th January 1909. She was the fourth daughter of Burchell Marshall and his wife Margaret Cannonier. Marshall was a business entrepreneur who built the firm S.L. Horsford and Co. Ltd and Marshall Plantations.
As a child, Doris attended the small, private school conducted by Eliza Wattley. It was here that she started to show her love of music. At an early age she was sent to Penrhose College in Wales where she finished her education and became an accomplished pianist. Her return to St. Kitts meant a return to community involvement, and church activities.
In 1931, Doris Marshall married Eustace Llewellyn Wall of Montserrat. The wedding took place in Havana, Cuba where Wall was working at the time and Cuba was also the birthplace of their first child, Beatrice. However the young family returned to St. Kitts eight months later when Wall was called home to help with the family business. In due course the couple had another two daughters - Pamela and Marguerite.
As her daughters developed and matured, Doris Wall devoted time and energy to the teaching of piano and to the production of charity concerts and musical shows. Holidays in England and the USA fed her desire to experience musical events of a caliber rarely found in St. Kitts. Her passion for music infused the Wall household and as a result the Georgian House on South Independence Square Street echoed to the happy sounds of voices singing to her accompaniment on the piano.
Before long the community began to anticipate her stage productions. This was the age of the musical shows and Doris Wall presented them year after year. Patiently, methodically and with sensitivity, she nurtured the latent talents of her assistants and musical note by musical note she built productions that continued to enjoy high acclaim years after the final curtain had fallen. Perhaps the zenith was reached with her magnificent production of Gilbert and Sullivan’s The Mikado.
Doris Wall’s mastery of the keyboard spread her fame beyond Kittitian shores. Visiting soloists both vocal and instrumental sought her accompaniment and her home was often the venue at which their talents were displayed. Locally. In 1949 world famous Russian cellist, Bogumil Sykora gave a recital at the Walls home. The room seated about one hundred and fifty persons and the elegant and tranquil setting was purposely created by the hostess of the evening.
In the soft light the audience was completely under the spell of this master musician. The atmosphere of harmony was enhanced by two beautiful ferns and a pretty bouquet forming part of the background and there was grace even in the flood of light which descended on the polished cello and the first quality baby grand on the left, which together produced liquid music that waved through the room and drifted out across Pall Mall Square and captivated a fair crowd which took a chance to assemble there to hear the great Russian master.
Doris Wall accompanied on the piano and her interpretations “gave strength to the soul that poured forth by Bogumil Sykora.”
Proceeds from both the musical productions and the recitals went towards many worthy causes because Doris Wall supported a number of organisations. Her devotion to the Anglican Church was almost legendry. In 1948 she became the Quarter Master of the Red Cross Branch in St. Kitts and served for six years in that position. Later she became a member of the Friends of the Hospital.
Wall’s love of music was not restricted to the classical European variety. When the St. Kitts Amateur Steel Band Association launched its competitions in the mid 1950s, her services as a judge were sought. In 1957, she joined Basil Henderson, Agnes Skerritt and others in organising the first Carnival in St. Kitts. Conditions in St. Kitts and most other islands in the Caribbean were deteriorating and many vibrant young men and women were seeking employment in England and elsewhere. It was hoped that a Carnival presentation at Christmas time would encourage visitors to the island and help stimulate a floundering economy.
From her father, Doris Wall inherited an interest in business and a sense of entrepreneurship. Following his death, she served as director of SL. Horsford & Co. and of Marshall Plantations for many years. In 1955 she established her own business, The Deluxe Record Shop, which soon became known as the only place in the Caribbean where every type of record was available.
In 1977, Doris Wall’s talents and her contribution to society received the recognition it deserved when she was honoured as a Member of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire. She died on the 22 March 1990.