The Covid-19 protocols prevented the public from physically paying respect to the former Governor General earlier today. Only invited guests from the government and the diplomatic corp along with family members and close friends were allowed. As the body lay in state at the House of Culture our newsroom were able to meet up with several of those guests including Minister of Human Development Dolores Balderamos Garcia.
Hon. Dolores Balderamos Garcia, Minister, Human Development, Families & Indigenous Affairs: “I thought, of course I am very much partial in this you know, I thought it was a brilliant and very forward looking move for the then premier to have named Dame Minita as our first Governor General. It was a great honor for women and something that back in those days wasn’t usual, it wasn’t common you know. So I thought it showed forward looking grasp of the role that women would begin to play more in an independent Belize. As you can see this morning many of us paying respects are women, the Speaker of the House, the President of the Senate and I’m very very honored to be here because I know it is not something that we can do with great crowds. My fondest memory of her is that sometimes she used to walk down with a nice big handbag right down Albert Street and down Queen Street and have on a nice broad brim hat and bright colors but always she carried herself with such dignity and she fulfilled her role in a way that I believe all Belizean women and all our population should emulate.
Kelorah Franklin, sibling to the late Dr Dame Minita Gordon arrived with her brother Robert Reyes and her Aide de Camp Dr Angel Young. Franklin gave an extensive interview to the media recalling her sister’s responses to humanitarian causes. She remembered the various events she attended with the former Governor General including the Queen’s visit in the 1980s.
Kelorah Franklin, Dame Minita’s Sister: “She had a heart of gold. Dame Minita was the eldest of our family of six children. She was kind, loving, caring and she was also a mentor for the rest of us. With her motivation and drive she had to excel she passed that on to us and we also had that drive to do our best and to excel. Whatever we needed to do we could look to her to motivate us, to advise us, and to do whatever deemed necessary to make sure we were successful. I was fortunate to have my sister as my teacher in three grades at St.Mary’s School and during this last four years that she was living with me I remember kissing her everyday and telling her how much I love her and I told her thank you for being my sister, for being my mentor, for being my teacher and for being my friend. And because I told her I loved her everyday several times during the day one day, because she did have a sense of humor, and so one day when I said “I love you sister.” and then I would call her “Sister Dame I love you.” and she would say “Don’t I know it.”
Although decades have passed since her reign as Belize’s Governor General, Dr Dame Minita Gordon is still fondly remembered by many. Among them is her hair dresser during her 12-year term, Pastor Suzette Massiah. The pastor paid her respects this morning and spoke with the media.
Pastor Suzette Massiah: “I became Dr.Dame Minita’s hair dresser from she became Governor General and I saw the other part of her that was not being a Governor General and three things she told me, this is before I was even a pastor: Serve God, serve others and serve our country. The fondest memory with there was one day when she came to the shop she said “Instead of doing hair lets go and eat.” and we went for lunch.”
Reporter: That must have been a nice surprise.
Pastor Suzette Massiah:“Yes it was and after that we did the hair.”
Dr Dame Minita passed away on January 1 in her home in Inglewood, California. She died one day after her 90th birthday.