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A territory mourns | Late Premier described as true statesman, legend

Ralph T O’Neal

A legend, a true statesman, a strong and principled politician were some of the words used to describe the late former Premier, Honourable Ralph T O’Neal, OBE.

The former Premier passed away at about 2 pm at his McNamara residence on Tortola in the presence of family members on Monday, November 11.

Legislators from either side of the political divide have public paused to salute the British Virgin Islands’ longest-serving elected representative.

“A giant tree has fallen in the Virgin Islands forest. A man who can only be described as a legend. I count myself as very fortunate to even have had a conversation with this great man. As a leader, he had a steady hand on the tiller, navigating many treacherous waters during his tenure,” government legislator Vincent Wheatley said in a tribute on social media.

Rest easy, great leader!

He further said the former Premier has left “a strong legacy” for present and future politicians to uphold.

“Rest easy, great leader! You have run your leg of the race well. Now rest in the comforting arms of the Creator! God speed,” Wheatley added.

Similar sentiments were echoed by Premier Andrew Fahie and Opposition leader Marlon Penn.

“My heart is extremely heavy after shortly receiving news,” Penn said in a social media tribute. “A true statesman who served his people of the Ninth District and wider Virgin Islands with honour and distinction for over four decades. I remember him as a man with a great sense of humour, extremely knowledgeable and a great sense of love and patriotism towards these Virgin Islands and its people.”

Honour to have served together

Penn said he felt it an honour and privilege to have served with him in the House.

“He was someone always eager to share his knowledge and always did what was in the best interest of these Virgin Islands and its people, despite what direction the political winds were blowing,” he remarked.

The H Lavity Stoutt Community College also extended condolences to the late legislator.

“We remember Mr O’Neal as a great statesman, as well as the college’s staunchest champions in its three decades of existence. We join with the rest of the community in remembering this great son of the soil while offering comfort and solace to his loved ones.”

While also expressing sadness and condolences at O’Neal’s passing, Speaker of the House of Assembly Julian Willock said he will be meeting with the O’Neal family in the coming days to prepare the House of Assembly for O’Neal’s official funeral.

 “Details will be forthcoming,” Willock said.

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  1. We are the BVI says:

    Great individual. Virgin Gorda would not be the great place it is to live without this man. I think of him daily as I drive around the Island. I will miss him.

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  2. Peaches says:

    My sympathy to the O’Neal family on this great loss.

    I wonder if his funeral will be during the week at some big open area, like the complex where HL Stout’s funeral was held. A church will be too small to hold thousands.

  3. Slight Correction says:

    To my modest understanding Hon. V. Wheatley never quoted those words on social media. It was Hon. Natalio Sowande Wheatley who worded that piece. “A Giant tree has definitely fallen in the Virgin Islands’ forest…” My deepest sympathies to his family and those who knew him personally and to the wider Virgin Islands that loved him just the same. May his legacy live on and his soul rest in eternal Peace. Selah

  4. HIPANO BARBER says:

    Es tratado con varias personas durante mis carrera de peluquero y es conocido pocas personas como este caballero.
    Recordar que cuando llegue aquí por vez primera a trabajar mi primer cliente en la peluquería fue este señor y con un corazón amables y su forma dulce de interactuar con migo me hizo entender que mis viaje no fue más que un sueños.
    Sino que valió la pena, me sentí tan bien que lo catamoque mas adelante como el reflejo vivo de mi padre.
    Espero que aquí sepan valorar y apreciar su perdidad y de seguro que sus consejo sabio y elocuente harán falta.
    Dios lo tenga en gloria y el mejor lugar que se mereces, de mi parte paz y conformidad a sus familia y allegados.

  5. Anonymous says:

    My heartfelt condolences to all… I am wondering if a day would be designated to commemorate his legacy.

  6. Anonymous says:



    By Tafari Zharr November 13, 2019

    In cricket the pitch is a prepared rectangular area between two wickets, At each end of the pitch the bowler bowls and the batsman plays

    Time Waits On No-One: The Valued Umpire calls the game, may make strikers and bowlers shame but he brought humor and fundamentals to the game:

    Ralph took to the fields wearing protective shield strapped to his left arm;
    His Clothing Was White: His Falls Were Neither Broken On “Consecrated” Dead, Dusty, or Green:

    So Unequivocal: “You are What You Wear in Cricket and “You Are What You Pitch”- Of mirrors, Of man, Of Courage, Commitment, and Confidence
    That Closeness with Constituents Cheated him of Connections taken for granted

    The Struggle of a Valued Umpire: Is the bowler bowling correctly? Yet A fork in the ground, an investment, a story, an ideal, Or a dream!
    A Stream of Light: An influential Virgin Islander,

    A Political Virtuoso, Virgin Gordans Should Beam

    “pitch is to cricket what good governance is to politics; like two sides of the same man”

    Beyond, “Dreadlocks” An adaptation-of-hair, for fear: “Caribbeanites” vs Colonization- Colonialism -Rework the Inefficacy –A Missed opportunity – A minor taint to Ralph’s Legacy?

    “pitch is to cricket what good governance is to politics; like two sides of the same man”

    Beyond, one last look of what it took Ralph to reach great political heights; SA-CRI-FICE – little mayhems not hiccups: Mavens Understand!

    “pitch is to cricket what good governance is to politics; like two sides of the same man”

    More than ground-breaking and deeds, beyond the shore, sounds, and seas – No Disrespect, I’m unforgetting Viola!

    Beyond, how useful to believe behind this great statesman: great children, grands, and woes of man, No Disrespect, I’m unforgetting Viola!

    Beyond, what doesn’t unite us, yet neither nothing nor something prepares you or I for this forlorn glum. No Disrespect, I’m unforgetting Viola!

    This shared loss is great and cogently leaves his family as well as our communities grievingly mum: For his Children, and their children. No Disrespect, I’m unforgetting Viola!

    The Struggle of a Political Virtuoso: What or Who’s Got to Give? No Disrespect, I’m unforgetting Viola!

    On Becoming Emperor for the ages! It Cost him Connections in Phases, Castaway Cares to Faraway Places, No Disrespect, I’m unforgetting Viola!

    Time Waits on No One, If She could, I imagine she would tell you that your hero once had an Empire State of Mind But instead I’m thinking of all the family he never could ever leave behind, No Disrespect, I’m unforgetting Viola!

    Yet a Veterans Day passing not meant for mourn: Instead a Homage for Change not Chance: No Disrespect, I’m unforgetting Viola!

    RIP – Condolences to the Immediate Family, Extended Family, Our Virgin Islands Mourns

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