Parliamentarians from both sides of the political divide, close friends and well-wishers are coming together to pay tribute to a woman who has been described as an exemplary public servant and citizen who served Antigua and Barbuda well in many different capacities.
Former Governor General’s Deputy and former Director General of Tourism for Antigua and Barbuda Dame Yvonne Maginley passed away Saturday night. The exact cause of death is unknown at this time.
Prime Minister Gaston Browne was among the first to express condolences to the family. In a statement to the media, the nation’s leader stated that Dame Yvonne Maginley, O.B.E K.C.M.G, “represented the best there is in this small island state filled with ambitions, to escape the tragedies of colonialism, underdevelopment and oppressive conditions”.
“She was born when Antigua and Barbuda was still a colony, governed by others not of our own choosing. This proud Caribbean woman set about to make her island-country a place where meaningful lives and livelihoods could be forged.
“Dame Yvonne will be remembered for her work with the Community Players. This cultural group toured the world, providing a glimpse into the artistic evolution of an emerging Caribbean island-state that nurtured great ambitions. She led performances at the United Nations, the Organisation of American States, the great music halls in London, New York and elsewhere,” Browne said.
He added that Dame Yvonne was instrumental in forging a path for tourism to find a place in the economy, and through her travels to North America and Europe she ensured that more Antiguans and Barbudans could participate meaningfully in an emerging sector.
“She was a pioneer in this field and won great applause from those with whom she worked as Director General of Tourism. Dame Yvonne Maginley’s work with the Antigua and Barbuda Hospitality Training Institute will not be forgotten. She was encouraged in this endeavour by Sir Lester Bird, then the Minister responsible for Economic Development. Her work with Sir Novelle Richards, another cultural icon who is the first among Antigua and Barbuda’s diplomats, will also be recorded by history. He wrote the national anthem and her musical skills perfected many of his poems,” PM Browne said.
Thousands of well-wishers and close friends also took to social media to express condolences to the family and share their own personal memory of Dame Yvonne.
Meanwhile, the former Member of Parliament for St. George, Dr. Jacqui Quinn, also reflected on the life of Dame Yvonne.
She described the former tourism official as a national treasure and a dedicated public servant who was committed to improving the country’s tourism industry.
“I first met her as a young journalist when she served as Director General of Tourism and then I admired her passion, her enthusiasm and her wide knowledge of the industry and her articulateness. When she was elevated to the Governor General’s Deputy, I again admired her dignity, her diplomacy and her deep patriotism,” Dr. Quinn said.
She suggested that, “given her yeoman service to this nation and her rich legacy to the tourism industry and to nation building in general, I call on this government to accord her with either a state or official funeral”.