A state funeral is being planned for Wednesday, December 11 to honour the first Premier of the Virgin Islands Honourable Ralph T. O’Neal, OBE Member Emeritus.
His body will lie in state at the House of Assembly Chambers on Monday, December 9 and Tuesday, December 10 from 10:30 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. on both days.
This will be followed by the state funeral on Wednesday, December 11 at the Multipurpose Sports Complex.
Additional details regarding the arrangements for the state funeral will be provided in subsequent communications.
Honourable O’Neal is survived by his wife Reverend Edris O’Neal, OBE, daughters Mrs. Esther Wheatley, Mrs. Cheryl ‘Jacqui’ O’Neal Privitere and Ms. Abigail O’Neal, son Ralph T. O’Neal, Jr., Son-in-Law Deputy Premier and Minister for Natural Resources, Labour and Immigration Honourable Vincent O. Wheatley, grandchildren Mr. Alexander Caffery, Ms. Amber Wheatley and Ms. Xyrah Wheatley and his sister Ms. Garna Campbell.
The family of Honourable Ralph T. O’Neal, OBE Member Emeritus informed the Government of the Virgin Islands of his passing on November 11. He was 85 years old.
A Coordination Committee, chaired by the Speaker of the House of Assembly Honourable Julian Willock, are planning the occasion in close consultation with the family and Premier and Minister of Finance, Honourable Andrew A. Fahie
Honourable O’Neal was the longest-serving elected official in the history of the Territory of the Virgin Islands. He served in the House of Assembly and Legislative Council for almost forty (40) years.
He was first elected in September 1975 as member for the Seventh District (then Virgin Gorda) and served as the elected representative for the Seventh District until 1979. He then served as the elected representative for the Ninth District (Virgin Gorda and Anegada) for consecutive terms from 1979 to 2015 until his retirement from active politics in 2015.
On July 6, 2015, the House of Assembly honoured Honourable O’Neal by passing a Resolution bestowing upon him Member Emeritus status.
He was appointed as Chief Minister following the death of Honourable H. Lavity Stoutt and served as Chief Minister and Minister of Finance and Economic Development from 1995 to 2003. He then served as the Territory’s first Premier and Minister of Finance from 2007 to 2011. He has also served as a Government Backbencher, and in the capacity of Minister for Social Services (1979 to 1983), Minister for Natural Resources and Labour (1988 to 1994) and Deputy Chief Minister (1988 to 1995).
Honourable O’Neal was born on Virgin Gorda and represented the Ninth District for thirty-six (36) consecutive years before retiring from his political life in 2015. He has contributed significantly to the development of Virgin Gorda and Anegada and the entire wider Virgin Islands. He has served this Territory in many different capacities including as a teacher, an administrator and political leader.
The Government of the Virgin Islands joins the family and friends of the late Honourable Ralph T. O’Neal, OBE Member Emeritus in mourning the passing of this Virgin Islands Patriot.