Thousands of mourners converged inside the Multipurpose Sports Complex in Road Town on Wednesday to pay their final respects to the late former Premier, the Honourable Ralph T O’Neal.
Prior to the service, uniformed groups, family members and friends walked from the RT O’Neal Government Administration Complex to the venue in tribute to the late legislator.
And following the nearly three-hour-long service, the body of O’Neal was transported to Virgin Gorda to be laid to rest next to his father’s grave, as per the former Premier’s wishes.
Several individuals paid tribute to the late legislator including the Governor Augustus Jaspert, Premier Andrew Fahie and Minister of Health & Social Development Carvin Malone.
“Honourable O’Neal was a legend, a statesman, a disciplined politician and historian who leaves a strong legacy for the legislators of this Territory to follow,” Governor Augustus Jaspert said.
Meanwhile, Premier Fahie said the late legislator “touched many lives as his work as a long-time servant of the people bears a good testimony of his civil service, from civil servant to public figure.”
He added: “Whether he served as an administrator, Leader of the Opposition, Chief Minister or first Premier, he firmly believed that, through all the changing scenes of life, in trouble and in joy, the praises of my God shall still his heart and tongue employ. Honourable O’Neal could be described as one of the last bastions of politics as we knew it in the Virgin Islands.”
Premier Fahie said O’Neal was also a gentleman who commanded decorum and upheld the greatest respect for this House of Assembly.
“He was indeed a teacher and a pillar of exemplary work not only for us who were trained under his guidance but for his other political peers in the Caribbean region and perhaps the world.”
His daughters, Esther O’Neal Wheatley, said she would miss his counsel while his youngest offspring Abigail O’Neal said her dad was a man who gave others the utmost respect no matter what their status in society.
His wife, Reverend Edris O’Neal, did not attend the funeral service because she was unwell.