Published On: Sat, May 5th, 2018

As we mourn a hero…

I would like to extend my sincere condolences to Mrs. Loretta Richardson and the rest of the Richardson family as you mourn the loss of Joe Richardson, a man that was well admired by all over the years for his humble and steadfast personality. St. Maarten has lost a hero!

On the 3rd of August, 1973, I was just 20 years old when  I had the privilege to cast my first vote for this great man fondly called “Joe for so”. He was devoted to the upliftment of this beautiful Island and he was selfless in his pursuit for growth on St. Maarten. He was determined to change politics positively, a goal which he attained eventually.

In 1979, I also had the opportunity to work with Joe after he recruited me. I ventured into politics for the first time as a candidate on the UPDG slate with other members like Chester York, Rafael Boasman, Reynold Groeneveldt and Ramon Marlin. We were a group of young men who Joe felt could bring the much needed change to St. Maarten at that time. To this day, I do not know what he saw in us, but we were his chosen few.

That same year, despite much preparation for the elections “Joe for so” decided not to participate in it. The party members decided to forge ahead without him by continuing with the elections but on election night, we realized that without Joe at the helm of the UPDG party, we did not stand a chance. The UPDG never partook in another election after that. Joe remained loyal to the Democratic Party and went on to be Commissioner.

We remained close friends throughout the years and in 1985, Joe became the Commissioner of Sports and I was the president of the St. Maarten Basketball Association. Our board which consisted of some well-known persons like Bobby Ottley, Elton Jones, Eddie Hodge and Merlyn Meyers had embarked on a rather ambitious plan to build a Sports Auditorium on the property next to the Youth Centre now known as the John Larmonie Center. Joe Richardson gave our plan his blessings and after taking the matter to the executive council to discuss our proposal, we contacted our bankers and that dream became a reality. Indoor sports had a place to hold tournaments and international shows at last! We couldn’t have achieved our goals without his effort and support. He believed that we could attain our goals as St. Maarteners.

In July 1985 the Greatbay Sports Auditorium was officially opened. It was the start of the LIBA tournament. The SBBA proudly hosted 7 Caribbean Counties. It was the first time that St. Maarten did not only participate but became a serious contender in this tournament. Eventually our Squad was tied in second place but due to the point difference, we were placed third.

Joe! You were a true St. Maartener and your love for St. Maarten triggered your mission to help it grow. You were always cool even when under pressure and you never gave up on anyone. You saw the good in everybody and managed to always give of yourself and in return, that charisma was reciprocated by those who came in contact with you.

Rest in perfect peace my mentor and friend. You will be missed!

Don R. Hughes