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Remembering Chuck Krallman

Friend, Innovator and Ambassador to the BVI

The BVI recently lost a special person in our community. We celebrate the life of Chuck Krallman and his departing legacy.

Chuck Krallman loved people, technology and the BVI. A native of New Albany, Ohio, where his father served as mayor, Chuck, the creator of the BVI Now App, first arrived in the BVI in 1989 after many successful years working in the tech industry.

Chuck’s early accomplishments included creating customer-driven strategies for multinational retail chains in software and marketing consulting. In his more than 40-years in the technology business, he worked with many of the world’s largest retailers and was involved in the original design of and successful patent applications for one of the first tablet computers with a removable keyboard – a precursor to the Microsoft Surface Pro computer.

His friends Mark and Cate Stephenson met him around 2001. “He was always fascinated by technology,” said Mark. He had a knack for taking something that was technically very complicated and simplifying it, which is what appealed to the retailers that he worked with over the years.

He had a strong tie to the retail industry and would create short, targeted exit surveys for retailers so that they could derive valuable insight from their customer base and thereby make informed decisions to optimize their offerings. Drawing from his decades of professional experience, Chuck was known to generously share his technical knowledge and general wisdom about a variety of topics with his friends in the BVI.

Chuck’s friend and colleague David Penn said the BVI hasn’t yet realised the resources it had in Chuck. “He was knowledgeable about practically everything,” he said. “I think he was a savant as far as technology is concerned.” But if there was one passion that drove him, his friends agreed, it was his love for the British Virgin Islands.

The BVI years

As soon as Chuck arrived in the BVI, he instantly fell in love with it. Shortly afterward, he purchased a house at Beef Island, where he quickly became familiar on the BVI social scene due to his gregarious nature, generosity and unique way with a story and a joke.

Chuck considered himself an unofficial ambassador to the BVI, always welcoming a seemingly endless stream of guests. He would often await their arrival at the airport in his vehicle, ready with a gallon of Mango Mayhem, his special fruity concoction. He’d then whisk them away to one of his favourite local restaurants.

He pulled out all the stops, making sure that they experienced “as much of this beautiful territory we live in as possible,” said David. “He always, always, always promoted the BVI.”

David recalled his sense of hospitality. “He threw open his doors to visitors and greeted them with a loud, ‘Well hello!’ Everybody he met was made to feel special. He had a quick wit about him.”

With a dry sense of humor and split-second timing, Chuck had the ability to efficiently cut to the crux of a matter. Although Chuck was quick with a joke and could have everybody laughing, it was never at anyone’s expense, but always the weaving of a tale. At heart, he was a gentleman.

Chuck’s legacy

Shortly after Hurricane Irma devastated the BVI in 2017, Chuck attempted to both communicate with his far-flung friends and help keep the wider world informed about the initial recovery efforts.

He began a series of posts called “The Oatmeal Diaries”. While the posts did occasionally reference one of Chuck’s favourite breakfast foods, it really had nothing to do with oatmeal. The posts were about adding a lighthearted twist to something serious. In his September 28, 2017 post, Chuck discussed the swarms of mosquitoes that had descended upon the islands. With his characteristic wit, he wrote:

“One of my Facebook friends suggested I add a bay leaf to my carton of oatmeal to repel the bugs. Apparently, that solution also works with flour and cornmeal. Who knew? So, I believe I have a new product suggestion for Quaker. I think they should introduce a special ‘Survival’ variant, with a bay leaf already added to the container.

Quaker Oats: available in Instant, Old Fashioned and Survival varieties. You heard it here first.” Chuck Krallman

In this way, he kept the whole island — and well-wishers all over the world, both informed and entertained.

Even through his health issues in the latter part of his life, Chuck approached these with the same spirit and positivity with which he approached everything else. He tackled everything bravely and became an expert in understanding what he was going through. He kept a core group of friends on a daily chat informed about his medical issues.

“He was the cheerleader,” said Mark. “Every day, he was basically saying, ‘I feel great!’, always putting a positive spin on things.”

BVI Now

The BVI Now App that Chuck created and which his colleagues intend to carry on, is a living, evolving encyclopedia of everything fun, interesting and unique about the BVI.

Chuck set out initially to support BVI businesses following the hurricanes, from restaurants and bars to laundromats and medical clinics. Ultimately, he conceived BVI Now to make it easier for them to offer their services and for people to know where to find them. As the BVI was recovering from the devastation, Chuck threw himself fully into BVI Now.

He pointed out in 2020 that Google Maps still showed a bar called The Bat Cave in Road Town — a bar that burned down about fifteen years prior. After Hurricane Irma, businesses were shown that were no longer there, new businesses had opened that weren’t on the map at all and many businesses had moved temporarily or permanently to different buildings.

“If you ask somebody who lives here, you might get directions like, ‘Get on the Ridge Road and take the third left after where the old boat USED TO BE,’” he wrote. The storms uncovered a real lack of a central repository of vital information and Chuck ensured the mission of BVI Now would be as an accurate, up-to-date guide for people through good times and bad. Beyond simply being an informative directory, BVI Now can even provide personalized recommendations based on what the user wants to get out of their experience, much the same way Chuck would have done if he were giving a guest his personalized grand tour.

For instance, if you’re passing the Beef Island bridge, you could get a notification of some historical content or an ‘X’ that marks the spot to where pirate treasure was said to have been buried years ago. Or if you’re in Road Town and say you’re in the mood for lobster or conch fritters, BVI Now will direct you to the right establishment, all with no Internet connection or data plan required.

With the BVI Government on board and his associates determined to carry on his legacy with it, the future for BVI Now that Chuck worked so hard on and cared so much about looks bright.

According to David, Chuck’s vision of the future for tourism for the BVI will be realised when more people adopt BVI Now. A Government endorsement has helped, but David said BVI Now has so much more potential. The app that became Chuck’s focus now serves as his legacy, as well as an invaluable tool for tourism in the BVI.

Thanks to Chuck’s dedicated hard work, the islands are more welcoming and accessible through the increasing adoption of this technology. As BVI Now continues, more people visiting the BVI will have a chance to learn from Chuck’s signature warmth, wit and wisdom. •

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