Political leaders unite in mourning sitting Cabinet Minister’s passing
NASSAU, BAHAMAS — Member of Parliament for West End and Bimini Obie Wilchcombe has been confirmed dead, sending shockwaves across the political landscape.
Wilchcombe, the Social Services, Information and Broadcasting Minister, also served as leader of Government Business in the House of Assembly.
Prior to entering the political arena, Wilchombe had a distinguished career as a journalist, joining the Broadcasting Corporation of The Bahamas in 1975. During his 25 years of service there, he was Deputy Director of News, News Director, and Assistant General Manager.
Wilchcombe embarked on his political career in August 1994 when he was appointed Senator by the late Sir Lynden Pindling, a former Prime Minister. In 1995, he ascended to the position of Chairman within the Progressive Liberal Party. Following the General Election of 1997, Perry G. Christie, then the opposition leader, reappointed him to the Senate.
On May 2, 2002, Mr Wilchcombe took the oath of office as the Minister of Tourism, with overarching responsibilities that included the Broadcasting Corporation of the Bahamas and the Bahamas Information Services. Simultaneously, on the same date, he achieved the status of Member of Parliament for the West End and Bimini Constituency as a representative of the Progressive Liberal Party in the House of Assembly.
During his tenure as Minister of Tourism, the Ministry of Tourism achieved record-breaking figures in terms of tourist arrivals and expenditures. Mr. Wilchcombe played a pivotal role in introducing new airlift services, including JetBlue, Spirit, WestJet, and Virgin Airlines.
Progressive Liberal Party (PLP) Chairman Fred Mitchell said in a statement: “The Prime Minister and Leader of the Party was informed this morning that the Minister for Social Services, the Hon Obediah Wilchcombe, passed away overnight. This is a shocking development for a dedicated, energetic and vibrant public servant. Our party is reeling this morning.”
Mitchell added: “We have a deep sense of loss from one we have known over the decades of public life. I have reached out to his beloved constituents of West Grand Bahama and Bimini. This is a very sad time for them as well. On behalf of the PLP, our leader and the entire team, supporters and friends, we extend condolences to his family.”
Leader of the Free National Movement (FNM), Michael Pintard, described Wilchcombe as a consummate professional.
“Minister Wilchcombe was a consistent embodiment of professionalism, known for his signature smile. Even amidst the heat of passionate exchanges, he could convey his goodwill through that warm smile or an unmistakable laugh, reassuring everyone that, on his end, all was well,” Pintard remarked.
“As we bid farewell to Minister Obie Wilchcombe, we remember him, not only as a formidable political force, but as a cherished colleague and friend. His legacy will endure in the hearts and minds of all who had the privilege of knowing him,” Pintard stated.
In extending his condolences on Mr Wilchcombe’s passing, former Prime Minister Dr Hubert Minnis noted that Wilchcombe served the nation with unwavering dedication and passion.
“The passing of Minister Wilchcombe is a profound loss to our nation. His invaluable contributions to the betterment of The Bahamas will forever be remembered and appreciated. As a devoted public servant, he worked tirelessly to enhance the lives of our citizens, first in the area of broadcast and journalism, and secondly as Member of Parliament and as a Cabinet Minister, leaving an indelible mark on our country’s history,” said Dr Minnis.
“During his tenure in government, serving most recently as Leader of Government Business in the House of Assembly, Minister Wilchcombe exhibited exemplary leadership and a deep commitment to the well-being of our people.
“As a Parliamentary colleague, I enjoyed our political interactions and vigorous debates throughout the years. His dedication to the betterment of our nation, his passion for public service, and his tireless efforts to foster unity within our society will be remembered as a beacon of inspiration for future generations,” Dr Minnis said.