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HomeNewsArchivesGovernor, Others Praise Leroy Marchena For Contributions to Community

Governor, Others Praise Leroy Marchena For Contributions to Community

Gov. John P. de Jongh, Jr. was among the Virgin Islanders Friday offering condolences to the family of St. Thomas businessman and political activist Leroy Marchena and tributes to their friend, who died this week at Schneider Regional Medical Center.

"Leroy Marchena served this community in both public and private capacities," the governor said. "He was a close adviser to governors past, and his thoughts and advice were highly respected and sought after by those active in Virgin Islands politics."

De Jongh commended Marchena’s public service on the governing board of the Water and Power Authority and as a member of the Virgin Islands Real Estate Commission.

Marchena, president of Hibiscus Development, Corner Stone Business Consultants and Antillean Contractors and Developers, was an active supporter of the territory’s Democratic Party, and a leader in the Harmonic Lodge. He also deeply loved baseball ever since he was a child playing with his friends on Garden Street.

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"Leroy Marchena was a friendly and charming man who was impossible not to like. He will be missed," de Jongh said.

The governor’s comments were echoed by those close to Marchena, who was active in public affairs in the community for decades.

Cecil Benjamin, Democratic Party state chair, said he was taken by surprise upon hearing of Marchena’s death earlier Thursday. Benjamin praised his friend as not only an "avid Democrat, but someone who could be turned to in any given instance."

In a phone conversation Thursday afternoon, Benjamin still seemed to be shaken by the news.

"I feel we must pay homage and honor to all the contributions he has made in his lifetime, and never forget what his contributions have been," he said.

"I’ve worked with him," Benjamin said. "I know him like I know my siblings. He was a true public servant in his own way."

Marchena was "not exactly a community leader or political figure," Benjamin said, "but as a citizen he was very active in leadership in respect to the social, economic and political direction the territory took over the years. He worked closely with all the governors, not just the Democrats. He worked with Juan Luis, Alexander Farrelly, Roy Schneider, Charles Turnbull and John de Jongh. He was a real heavyweight giant out there, nor only for the party, but for people of the territory, always looking on the bright side of things."

Benjamin concluded, "I want to say God bless his soul for gracing us with his presence, and for a job well done."

Etienne Bertrand, fellow member of Harmonic Lodge No. 356, where Marchena was a long time member, said over the phone Thursday evening the news came as a surprise.

"The news caught us all off guard. He was a dear, dear friend. It is a tremendous loss. He made so many contributions to the community, everybody knows how much," Bertrand said.

Bertrand, also sounding shaken by the news, said Marchena had a "long and distinguished career within the Lodge, both locally and throughout the district."

Marchena was Master of the Lodge in the late seventies.

Marchena’s life was touched by controversy when he was indicted in a 2007 bribery and conspiracy case involving former Planning and Natural Resources Commissioner Dean Plaskett and Property and Procurement Commissioner Marc Biggs. Marchena, however, was acquitted.

Information from Marchena’s survivors will be released when available. Funeral arrangements are pending at Davis Funeral Home.

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