Monique and I read with regret of the passing of Mario de Chabert and we join the many others who have expressed their condolences to his family.
I have many memories of Mario but the most indelible of all is of my first summer as a law intern at the law offices of Hodge & Sheen when the de Chabert family sold some of their real property to Hess Oil on which the present Hovensa Refinery is located. At the time, Mario was working for the firm as an associate and I remember at the closing looking with awe at one check for $1,000,000 which was the first one we had all seen!
It was an important historical moment for St. Croix as it marked the opening of a new economic development strategy for the island and for the Virgin Islands, generally. It also provided the financial stimulus for the generous philanthropy of the de Chabert family which has helped to improve so much of the life of St. Croix.
Throughout his life, Mario had a vision of a better St. Croix and he worked tirelessly to bring it to fruition. An early gambit was the Yellow Cedar Corp. formed by a group of young Crucians including Jerry Christian, Winston Hodge, Albert Sheen, Hortense Rowe, Phillip Gerard and many others too numerous to mention. It was basically an investment company created to invest in St. Croix. Another was the formation of a Black Chamber of Commerce, an early precursor of the notion that Black people had to look to their own resources to improve their economic condition. He was also a signatory to the formation of the Unity Party on St. Croix and one of the strategists for its eventual victory over the then Democratic Party on the island.
All of his dreams were not realized, but the articulation of his ideas and the drive to implement many of them will leave a lasting legacy of his love for these islands.
May he rest in peace.
DE CHABERT'S VISION WILL LIVE ON
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