83.2 F
Cruz Bay
Saturday, July 20, 2024


Sept. 11, 2002 – Condolences and reminiscences about the late Alexander A. Farrelly continued to pour forth on Wednesday, some of them from off-island friends and former associates of the former governor who had just learned of his death on Tuesday afternoon at his home in Arlington, Virginia.
Notably absent from the responses received by the media as of Tuesday night was comment from Farrelly's lieutenant governor, Derek Hodge. Unlike those who have held the No. 2 position since, Hodge had a harmonious working relationship with his governor throughout their eight years in office. Both lawyers, the two were, in fact, close friends, and remained so over the years.
Hodge was in Washington, D.C., on business this week. He released a statement from the nation's capital on Wednesday calling Farrelly "a Virgin Islander to the core," saying: "Born a Crucian, he grew to be a Virgin Islander, a man who could speak for and to all Virgin Islanders. He was prone to human frailty and he had his share of criticism, but he always accepted personal responsibility for his conduct and never shirked his duty."
Farrelly "came to the office of governor well prepared for the challenges he would face," Hodge said, "and, nothwithstanding the bumps in the road, the judgment of history will be positive."
According to Hodge, he had been impressed early on with Farrelly's work at the United Nations before returning to the territory to pursue careers in politics and the law. But it was after embarking on his own law career in 1971 that Hodge got to know the late governor well. "He was one of our great lawyers and litigators, and I was always in awe when he would take the testimony of a witness in shorthand," Hodge recalled of Farrelly. "He never flinched when he had to defend an unpopular defendant, as in the Maria Felix case, which created a storm of controversy on St. Croix when his client was exonerated."
But service as lieutenant governor provided the best opportunity to know Farrelly well, Hodge said: "Through the good times and the bad times, through triumph and tribulations, I saw how he loved the Virgin Islands and the people of these islands. He was always open to creative ideas, and there was never a time when he disparaged my conduct of the affairs of my office. He could have joined the cacophony of criticism which I endured after Hurricane Hugo, but he stood by my side and gave me the leeway to fashion the remedy which we needed."
Hodge said he visited the governor's wife, Joan Harrigan Farrelly, at her home outside Washington on Tuesday evening. He said it was his understanding that the former first lady would issue a statement soon.
Eric E. Dawson, who served as commissioner of the old Economic Development and Agriculture Department under Farrelly, said his former boss's "contributions to the territory are immeasurable and redound to his credit. He truly felt a sense of duty, beginning with his service to the country when he served in World War II, then to the United Nations after law school and subsequently to his home when he returned to serve as an assistant U.S. attorney." Farrelly, he said, "chose the path of service to the people when he could have skillfully chosen a path directly to private law practice." And sitting on the Municipal Court bench, "he brought a new approach to administering justice tempered with compassion."
Dawson, who served four terms in the Legislature between 1973 and 1986, said that Farrelly's own service there several years earlier "was marked with excellence and with the goal for improving the social, economic and political status of the people at large. Teaming up with Earle B. Ottley, John Maduro and others, Alexander A. Farrelly could be counted on to deliver points and authorities which carried the day for important pieces of legislation."
As commissioner, Dawson said, he was tasked with carrying out Farrelly's mandates for economic development: "First, he wanted a new abattoir for St. Croix, and that was commenced in the first month of his tenure as governor; next, he ordered the commencement of several capital improvement projects" — notably the Frederiksted pier, the Cruz Bay dock and the Cyril E. King Airport terminal. Farrelly also focused on small business development, he said, and ensured that funding was available to promote tourism, "knowing that it is, and will continue to be, the most important industry in the territory." Overall, Dawson said, Farrelly "set the pace for economic and social development which would lead to a better Virgin Islands."
Team 2002 Democrats, the coalition of candidates in the St. Thomas-St. John district seeking office this fall on the Democratic Party ticket, issued a statement calling Farrelly "an exemplary Democrat and a role model" who "worked very closely with Earle B. Ottley and Governor [Ralph] Paiewonsky in the early achievements of the Democratic Party. His leadership will be sorely missed."
Sen. Adlah "Foncie" Donastorg cited Farrelly's "great legacy," saying that he was, "among many other things, a learned attorney, a great supporter of charitable causes and a deeply committed public servant." Donastorg, like others, said Farrelly's most lasting contribution may have been the territory's acquisition of The West Indian Co. from Danish interests. "Governor Farrelly had the insight to understand the importance of removing what was essentially the last major vestige of Danish colonialism here," the senator said. "From the very start, he was among the few that realized the true value of WICO."
Marylyn A. Stapleton, longtime Democratic Party stalwart, recalled that she "worked closely with Alex Farrelly during my 12 years as the state chair of the Virgin Islands Democratic Party." It was Farrelly, she said, who appointed her to her first government positions, as deputy commissioner and then assistant commissioner of the Licensing and Consumer Affairs Department.

Publisher's note : Like the St. Croix Source now? Find out how you can love us twice as much — and show your support for the islands' free and independent news voice … click here.

Print Friendly, PDF & Email
Keeping our community informed is our top priority.
If you have a news tip to share, please call or text us at 340-228-8784.

Support local + independent journalism in the U.S. Virgin Islands

Unlike many news organizations, we haven't put up a paywall – we want to keep our journalism as accessible as we can. Our independent journalism costs time, money and hard work to keep you informed, but we do it because we believe that it matters. We know that informed communities are empowered ones. If you appreciate our reporting and want to help make our future more secure, please consider donating.