"We have lost a true treasure of the island"
On the heels of the passing of local historian and long-time civil servant Alfonso Blijden, Minister of Education, Culture, Youth and Sports drs. Rodolphe Samuel has expressed what he describes as "great sadness and a profound sense of loss" at the news of Blijden's death.
Blijden joined the local civil service many years ago after coming to St. Maarten and dedicated his life to recording and sharing the history of St. Maarten. "He was an undeniable expert in his field and because of him a lot of our history is pretty well documented and available to this and future generations," Minister Samuel said of the late Alfonso Blijden. “We are blessed in St. Maarten to have very dedicated and hard-working civil servants, but even in a pool of so much talent and passion, Blijden was able to stand out as special and he will surely be missed. He brought his own personal brand to the position making it his own and people took notice,” Minister Samuel notes.
According to Drs Samuel, more than 30 years of dedication and passion to a role "is not something you come across every day and Blijden’s loyalty must be commended." Alfonso Blijden will best be remembered for his passion for all things culture and for his role as a historian. In his 30-plus years as a civil servant for the government of St. Maarten, his positions included Archive Officer, and Application Manager for the Department of Records and Information Management. He held the latter position until his passing last weekend. The late Alfonso Blijden was also a former member of the UNESCO Memory of the World Committee for Latin America and the Caribbean and a member of the National Monument Council.
"I extend my heartfelt condolences to the family and friends of the late Alfonso Blijden and hope they find comfort in the knowledge that Blijden was also well-loved by his colleagues and many on the island including myself. We have lost a true treasure of the island. May you find strength in this emotional time," Minister Samuel concludes.