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Dr. Dame Minita Gordon passes

She was Belize’s first Governer General

BELIZE CITY, Sun. Jan. 3, 2021– News was received yesterday of the passing of former Governor General of Belize, Dr. Dame Minita Gordon. Dame Minita had been ailing for a number of years and was receiving home care with relatives in the U.S. at the time of her passing.

Just under four years ago, Amandala published what could at the time have been considered a farewell of sorts in a story titled simply, “Dame Minita Gordon, Belize’s first Governor General.” The article was dated Saturday, April 16, 2016, and was occasioned by a sad situation explained in its final paragraph:

“However, now in her golden years, she has not been well. Arrangements have thus been made for her to go and live with her sister, Kelorah Franklin, in the United States of America.”

In the paragraphs that preceded that final statement, however, the article had chronicled and lauded the outstanding achievements of this daughter of the Belizean soil. It commenced by stating, “There have not been many women in Belize as distinguished as Dame Minita Gordon. In 1981, Belize received its independence from England; however, Belize still held ties to the monarchy. The person holding the post of Governor General was thus the Queen’s representative in Belize following Belize’s attainment of Independence in 1981, and that distinguished position was bestowed on Gordon.”

The article had also noted that: “Minita E. Gordon was born to Frederick Gordon and May Dakers on December 30, 1930, in Belize City. Gordon had five other siblings: Lincoln Coyi, Dorinda Henderson, Kelorah Franklin, Rolston Coyi and Robert Reyes.”

Yesterday, however, a release from the Prime Minister’s office announced the passing of Dame Minita Gordon thusly:

“The Office of the Prime Minister announces the death of Dame Elmira Minita Gordon, GCMG, GCVO. She died yesterday, January 1, 2021, in Inglewood, California. Dame Minita Gordon served as Belize’s first Governor General from 1981 to 1993, the first woman in the Commonwealth to assume the role. The Prime Minister Hon. John Briceño and the Government of Belize express condolences to the family and friends of Dame Minita Gordon. Details of her burial will be shared at a later date.”

Here is what is said about Dame Minita Gordon on one Wikipedia page which covers her life:

“Elmira Minita Gor­don was born 30 December 1930 in Be­lize City, British Honduras. She grew up in Be­lize City and at­tended St. John’s Girls’ School and then St. Mary’s Primary. She continued her education at St. George’s Teacher’s College and fur­thered her studies through a correspondence course from the College of Preceptors, Oxford, England. She began teaching at an Anglican school and was a missionary throughout Belize between 1946 and 1958. From 1959 to 1969, she was a lecturer at the Belize Teachers Training College, after which, from 1969 to 1981, she was a Government Education Officer.

“Gordon completed her postgraduate education at the University of Nottingham and University of Birmingham in England and the University of Calgary in Alberta, Canada. Between 1977 and 1980, Gordon was in Canada where she served on the Educational Psychology Programme Planning Committee and was a member of the Toronto Leather Craft Club. She earned her Master’s degree in Educational Psychology and then a Doctorate in Applied Psychology from the University of Toronto, Canada, becoming the first trained Belizean psychologist.

“She returned from her studies in 1980 and in 1981 was appointed Governor General of Belize. She succeeded James P. I. Hennessy, the last Governor of Belize, and became the first Governor General of Belize upon Belize gaining their Independence.

“Gordon was the first woman to be appointed as Governor General, or the Queen’s representative, of a Commonwealth realm. She was promoted to both Dame Grand Cross of the Order of St Michael and St George (GCMG) and Dame Grand Cross of the Royal Victorian Order (GCVO).

“Dame Elmira Gordon was a member of the Girl Guides from 1946,https://wiki2.org/en/Elmira_Minita_Gordon – cite_note-Guardian 4 and in 1970 became the District Com­mis­sioner of the Girl Guides for the Be­lize district. She became a Justice of the Peace in 1974 and a senior Justice of the Peace in 1987. Gordon received a lifetime membership of the British Red Cross in 1975, and in the Belizean Red Cross in 1981. In addition to her public works, Gordon was a master leather crafts artisan, having won numerous prizes for her works.”

Sir Albert Staine, Chief Justice, swearing in Honourable Minita Gordon, first Belizean Governor General, in 1981

The 2016 Amandala story continued: “One of the key duties of the Governor General involved, according to the website of the National Assembly, ‘assenting, the Bills passed in the House of Representatives and the Senate so that they can then become Laws of Belize.’ And Gordon performed this function, in her capacity as Governor General, from 1981 to 1993.”

It also added: “Gordon was a woman in her own right and a role model for young women in Belize. Although she was a quiet person, she had a full active public life. The National Library says that Gordon was ‘… a member of the National Library Board, a member of St. Hilda’s College Board of Governors, a member of the YWCA.’ Also, she was very skillful in making craft and she taught young people how to crochet, make macramé and stuffed toys, and create ornaments from waste material.”

The first Governor General of Belize, the Hon. Dr. Dame Minita Gordon, will be given an official State Funeral at a date to be announced sometime soon. And the nation will mourn the stately lady with the big, white, wide-brimmed hat, who served her turn as the centerpiece of official ceremonies at Memorial Park and Government House and at other ceremonies that her office demanded that she attend during her tenure as Governor General of Belize. She served her country well, with dignity and grace.

At the Kremandala compound, we will shed an extra tear and bow our heads in respect for this great lady, who no doubt raised some eyebrows and perhaps the ire of a few, when she made her personal choice to appoint the champion of this establishment, Evan X Hyde, as a Senator back in 1993.

Our deepest condolences to all her relatives and friends at home and abroad. Rest In Peace, Dr. Dame Minita Gordon.

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