Belize’s first and only woman Governor General has passed. Dame Elmira Minita Gordon died two days after her 90th birthday. Her passing on New Year’s Day reportedly occurred in Inglewood, California, USA. Dame Minita, as she was referred to, became Belize’s first Governor General in 1981 and served twelve years in that capacity. Aside from her position as the Governor General, Dame Minita was Belize’s first ever trained psychologist attaining both a Master’s and a Doctorate Degree in Psychology. Dame Minita was a double dame, meaning that she was conferred the title of Dame on two occasions from two orders, namely, the Order of Saint Michael and Saint George and the Royal Victorian Order. She was also a member of the girl guides from 1946 and became District Commissioner of the Girl Guides for the Belize district in 1970. She became a Justice of the Peace in 1974 and a senior Justice of the Peace in 1987. In 1975 she received a lifetime membership of the British Red Cross, and subsequently in the Belizean Red Cross in 1981. Former Brigadier General Allan Usher was Dame Minita’s Aide for over three years. He spoke to Love News on his work experience with her and the work ethics she carried.
Allan Usher, Former Aid to Dr.Dame Minita Gordon: “The biggest characteristic she had was perseverance for excellence. Her motto was “Aim high”. If you look at her origins she grew up in rural Belize district up in the St.Ann’s / Lucky Strike area of immigrant Jamaican parentage. Her parents migrated to Belize in the 1920s and she was born in 1930. So she grew up in rural Belize and really what it does it sets an example that anyone can achieve what they set out to do. She started her working life as a teacher and gradually progressed through to the Ministry of Education and the education department through her own perseverance, got scholarships to universities abroad – Britain and in Canada, and eventually achieved her Doctorate in education. And then at that point shortly after she was appointed as Governor General. So basically she through her own perseverance achieved basically the highest office in this land. Basically a first born to immigrants and growing up initially rural conditions and just by perseverance reached the top of this.”
Our Toledo Correspondent Paul Mahung served the Governor General as her aide de camp for over ten years. According to Mahung the late Dame Minita had a love for the Toledo District and had embraced all cultures.
Paul Mahung, Toledo Correspondent: “Coordinating her many visits to Punta Gorda and majority of Toledo rural communities and accompanying her to the locations during the visits remain truly memorable experiences. In her capacity as Governor General her excellency Dr.Dame Minita Gordon’s visits in Toledo were always warmly welcomed with much appreciation and hospitality extended to her at the varied and well planned community level cultural, religious and education events that all began on time as she was very punctual. At the events she repeatedly congratulated the event organizers and those present and showed appreciation for the cultural music, dances, food, application of good manners, discipline, clean environment, respect for our flag and national anthem of Belize and upkeep of rich and traditional cultural daily lifestyle in town and rural activities. One of her visits to Toledo took her by sea to coastal community of Monkey River where she fondly recalled her professional service as principal of the school and meaningful years of development of primary school education with the children as that was only one of many other dedicated educational commitments she fulfilled nationwide. Governor General Dr. Dame Minita Gordon while in this district mentioned her appreciation for Radio Belize, Friends FM and of recent Love FM’s nationwide broadcast services and programs. Additionally she always showed much appreciation of Toledo’s natural green environment with splendor of flora and fauna and love and hospitality of inhabitants as extended to her not only in Toledo but throughout Belize she so dearly loved and outstandingly served during her lifetime.”
Prime Minister John Briceno and the Governor General, His Excellency Sir Colville Young issued a note of condolence through the Government’s Press Office. Details of Dame Minita’s burial will be announced later in the week.