Reflecting on the sacrifices and drive of the late Hon Ralph T. O'Neal OBE, Opposition Leader Marlon A. Penn (R8) at a December 3, 2019 special sitting of the House of Assembly (HoA) said he cannot imagine giving the majority of his life to the people in the way Hon O'Neal did for the territory.
"It's not easy Mr Speaker, to give two-thirds of your life... of everything you have in this life. I am 42 now, I can't imagine giving two-thirds of my life to the service of the people of this territory," Hon Penn told the House.
Son regrets political career - Hon Penn
Noting that it takes a lot to serve as a Legislator, Hon Penn said he has been in the House of Assembly (HoA) for some nine years now. "When I came here my son was 5 when we started."
Hon Penn continued, "He often tells me now that he regrets me taking up politics because people have stolen me from him."
Further, the Opposition Leader detailed that given the words of his son, he cannot imagine what the wife and children of Hon O'Neal had to go through over the years he served in politics.
"40 years is nothing to squawk about and I want to commend Reverend Edris O'Neal, Abby [Abigail O'Neal] the other sisters, your brother... for the sacrifice you have made for this territory, the sacrifice you have made for us to have a once in a lifetime, transformational leader," Hon Penn said.
O'Neal family made sacrifices
"He couldn't do it all alone, it took a family at home, it took that support system for him to be able to give of his all to his people, to the community... and to the entire territory," Hon Penn said in calling for more recognition of great VI leaders.
Before his death, the family of Hon O’Neal welcomed the move by the Virgin Islands Party (VIP) Government to rename Central Administration Complex in honour of the political giant.
A lover of the game of cricket and a former President of the British Virgin Islands Cricket Association (BVIAA), Hon O’Neal was honoured for his sterling contribution to cricket in the Virgin Islands when NAGICO Insurances and the British Virgin Islands Cricket Association (BVICA) presented him with a plaque and held a match in his honour at Greenland Playfield on April 14, 2019.
Hon O'Neal, who started his public service career as a school teacher, served over 60 years in public life, including some 40 years as an elected representative.