“Who can be called the people’s man or woman of today’s politicians?”
Patsy Lake asked that question in a room full of politicians who turned out today for the funeral service of former legislator, Omar Wallace Hodge.
But, no politician from the government nor the parliamentary opposition dared to take the label of ‘The People’s Man’ which was given to Hodge by the very BVI residents he served for more than three decades.
His life and years of service to the territory was celebrated today inside the New Testament Church of God International Worship Centre at Baugher’s Bay this morning.
Lake, who has been described as Hodge’s proverbial ‘right hand’, remembered the former legislator as a leader who listened to ‘the people’.
“It never mattered to him if you were black, white, or blue; neither did it matter if you spoke English, French or Spanish. He had a big heart filled with love,” she told the large congregation that turned out to pay final respects to Hodge.
While naming some of Hodge’s accomplishments, Lake said Hodge was a major contributor to the development of the Purcell Estate community, which will be Hodge’s final resting place.
Hodge was also a stalwart of the Virgin Islands Party (VIP). Past VIP President, Carvin Malone said he gained a wealth of knowledge from Hodge during his tenure with the political party.
“He has proven to be a person of vision and his whole saying that ‘love knows love’ is exemplified in the way that people deal with him and how he deals with people,” Malone said.
“He was a person who dealt with human issues, and who cared about people… The things he fought for will always be remembered,” Malone added.
Tribute at public viewing
A steady flow of people attended the public viewing of Hodge’s body at the House of Assembly yesterday.
While speaking with BVI News on Hodge’s life, several residents had kind words to say about the former legislator.
“Omar was a champion. He was a real people’s man. He fought for people, equality, and justice,” said local contractor Keith Malone.
Former Attorney General, Cherno Jallow also had fond memories of Hodge.
“He was full of humour, full of life, and always made difficult things appear simple and all he wanted in all cases was just to bring people together. He did not believe in adversity, he believed in discourse and understanding in order to achieve something ultimately.”
Reverend Dr Sonia Brokes, who described herself as a friend of Hodge’s family, said: “The country has lost a great man, whether he was into government or not, he was a great man. And I would pray for more politicians to be like Omar Hodge — with a heart for the people.”
Hodge was the third longest-serving member of the House of Assembly after the late H Lavity Stoutt and Ralph T O’Neal.
His career as a politician started off as an independent candidate before joining the VIP.
He moved back and forth between the Concerned Citizen’s Movement political party and the VIP and during his tenure, he served as a member of the Opposition, Government Backbencher, and Deputy Chief Minister, and Minister of Natural Resources and Labour.
He died on December 20, 2017, after suffering a stroke a few weeks before.
He is survived by wife Dr Miriam Rodriguez-Hodge; his children Debra, Jeremy, and Myrecks; and his grandchildren Jae, Jade, and Alevia Hodge.
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