The territory has lost an illustrious native son in the death of Ariel Melchior Sr. Even though our verbal exchanges were few and far between, my admiration for this man is well known within my family. I shared this admiration with his son, Ariel Jr., many years ago. Mr. Melchior's stature in the community that developed over time and through the pages of his publication attracted my interest. Although we were not friends, his robust presence in print and the aura of his person were indelibly etched in my consciousness. As a young man and a returnee from the college experience in the late 1950s, I looked forward to reading his daily editorials in The Daily News. I was influenced immeasurably by his insight and editorial positions expressed through the years.
His singular willingness to engage the political bosses of the time when it was dangerous to do so openly or even surreptitiously intensified my admiration for this great man. He gave voice to issues that many shared but shied away from due to fear of the political and economic consequences that could befall them directly or indirectly if they dared to differ. I admired the strength of this man as he stood tall and at most times alone, while advocating just causes for the territory. I gained personal strength observing him as he served the community and the territory through the pages of his paper. I sought his counsel privately and he shared his advice willingly.
He also hired the fledgling private sanitation service that I co-owned. When chastising the partners of our small business for a failed pick-up, he remarked sternly, "too much administration; get on with the pick-ups." Notwithstanding this rebuke, he encouraged us in our undertaking and even suggested an arrangement that could have expanded our small business enterprise.
While he was at Sea View Nursing Facility, I had the opportunity to tell him of my enduring admiration for him personally and the work of the Daily News during the years of his stewardship. It was indeed a tremendous pleasure to say to him personally what I said about him to others through the years. He ranked very high among my very short list of personal role models.
Mr. Melchoir was an outstanding Virgin Islander and native son!
Gaylord A. Sprauve
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