Following the unexpected death of Social Services, Information and Broadcasting Minister Obediah Wilchcombe early Monday morning, Prime Minister Philip Davis and parliamentary colleagues sought solace in his legacy, and service to the Bahamas and his political party.
“Obie was a stalwart of the Progressive Liberal Party (PLP) and his voice resonated as a beacon of progressiveness within the party,” Davis said while mourning Wilchcombe’s death.
“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.”
Since the PLP’s win at the polls in 2021, during his run for West Grand Bahama and Bimini, Wilchcombe was initially given the portfolio for the Minister of Social Services, and just three weeks ago, he was granted an additional portfolio to include Information and Broadcasting.
“His favourite phrase, ‘One Love’, exemplified his worldview, symbolizing unity, compassion, and a deep love for humanity,” Davis said.
Wilchcombe started as a journalist at the Broadcasting Corporation of The Bahamas in 1975, and was first elected to parliament in 2002 for West End Grand Bahama and Bimini, as the Minister of Tourism in the Christie administration.
In addition to his current ministerial profile, Wilchcombe was the leader of government business in the House of Assembly where he often butted heads with the Opposition.
“Even amidst the heat of passionate exchanges, he conveyed his goodwill through his warm smile or an unmistakable laugh, reassuring everyone that, on his end, all was well,” Opposition Leader Michael Pintard remembered.
“He had an unparalleled skill for placing topics in a historical context, weaving in his personal connection while at the same time touching the hearts of his listeners. He was a formidable opponent and everyone knew it.
Pintard reminisced on his “signature smile.”
Pintard’s last interaction was an installation service for Rev. Dr. Philip McPhee as the President of the Bahamas National Baptist Missionary and Educational Convention. “We were sitting near each other. We followed the preacher’s instruction to turn to our neighbour and exchange a greeting. Little did I know that this would be our final interaction, in a place where divisions are bridged, and the essence of what truly matters becomes crystal clear.”
Wilchcombe passed overnight Sunday but it was not publicized until 10 Monday morning.
“This is a shocking development for a dedicated, energetic and vibrant public servant,” said party chairman Fred Mitchell who Wilchcombe once challenged for the position.
“Our party is reeling this morning (Monday).”