It is with the heaviest of hearts that, along with my wife, Ann Marie, I offer heartfelt condolences to the family, friends, and all the loved ones of our colleague, Hon. Obediah Hercules Wilchcombe, or as we knew him, “Obie”.
During the past two years, he served with great distinction as member of Parliament for West Grand Bahama and Bimini and minister of social services and urban renewal. He was recently appointed to take on the additional portfolio of information and broadcasting.
Obie’s untimely passing is very shocking and very sad. Even though he has achieved much in his many years of public service, he still had so much more to offer.
In 1975, he started his career as a journalist with the Broadcasting Corporation of The Bahamas. We remember well his many innovations, such as being the first to report a story, not from behind a desk, but walking and talking to the camera.
This personal touch reflected the easy, intimate style with which he addressed everyone.
Over 25 years, he rose through the ranks, holding various positions including deputy director of news, news director, and assistant general manager.
He was resolute and courageous in his reporting and his defense of the Fourth Estate. He is perhaps the only journalist in the country to have been sent to prison for refusing to reveal his sources, an episode that continued to traumatize him many years later.
Although he formally began his political career in 1994, his political roots ran much deeper.
His parents helped to establish the PLP branch in Grand Bahama, and he cut his teeth writing speeches for the father of the nation, Sir Lynden Pindling.
His relationship with Sir Lynden was one which he treasured and which continued to inspire him throughout his life.
In politics, he held many senior offices, both within the Progressive Liberal Party and within the government: Party chairman, senator, Cabinet minister and leader of government business in the House.
He will likely be remembered most for his two stints as minister of tourism, where his visionary initiatives, such as the introduction of sports, religious, and African-American tourism, significantly enhanced the tourism product of The Bahamas.
His contribution to the development of the film industry was exemplary, and the success of this policy was evident when two of the top three films of 2006 were shot in our beautiful nation.
Beyond his professional commitments, Obie was a spirited sportsman and a former president of the Grand Bahama Basketball Association and the Commonwealth American Football League (CAFL).
Obie was a stalwart of the Progressive Liberal Party and his voice resonated as a beacon of progressiveness within the party.
He was funny and thoughtful, with a great sense of our place in history.
His articulate discourse and thoughtful insights were profound and often shocked the conscience of the Progressive Liberal Party, leading to meaningful deliberations and impactful resolutions.
His favourite phrase, “One love”, exemplified his worldview, symbolizing unity, compassion, and a deep love for humanity.
Ann Marie and I mourn the loss of a true patriot, a visionary leader, and a cherished friend along with the entire nation.
We will miss him.
May his soul rest in peace, and may his family find solace in the love and support of the people whose lives he touched profoundly.
— Prime Minister Philip Davis