Reverend Vincia Celestine (second left) leading the funeral procession of former Commissioner Neuman Pompier to the Dutch Reformed cemetery in St. Eustatius on Wednesday.
ST. EUSTATIUS--Former Commissioner of St. Eustatius Neuman Norris Pompier (66) was laid to rest at the Dutch Reformed cemetery on Wednesday in the presence of Government Commissioner Marcolino “Mike” Franco, Deputy Commissioner Mervyn Stegers and former Lt. Governor Julian Woodley.
Representatives of the St. Eustatius Police and Fire Departments and various political parties, along with family members and friends of the deceased, a wide cross-section of the community and visitors from abroad attended the thanksgiving service at Bethel Methodist Church, during which Reverend Vincia Celestine conducted the homily.
Pompier was born in Aruba on August 17, 1952. He later joined the army in which he held the rank of corporal. After his army service he returned to Statia.
Former Commissioners Adelka Spanner and Ingrid Whitfield said Pompier’s influence had prompted their involvement in the political arena.
St. Eustatius Utility Company STUCO Chief Executive Officer Fred Cuvalay mentioned Pompier’s long, “illustrious career” in GEBE and STUCO’s supervisory board.
Stegers expressed government’s “deepest sympathy” to family and friends of the late Pompier.
In the 1980s, after his career with GEBE, Pompier gained employment with Statia Terminals in the electrical field, and in 1983 he was approached by the Democratic Party (DP) of St. Eustatius to run as one of its candidates in the election together with his fellow candidate Julian Woodley.
Woodley and Pompier were dubbed by their political opponents as the “schoolboys” due to their age and lack of experience at the time. Even though they were in their 30s, Woodley and Pompier received many preferential votes, which gave DP the majority in the election.
Pompier took the oath of office on July 2, 1983, and on that same date he was appointed by the majority of the Island Council to serve as a Commissioner. He had to give up his job in the private sector, which, as Stegers explained, was quite a sacrifice because back in those days the reward for being a commissioner was far from what it is now.
As Commissioner of Airport and Transportation, Pompier established the Tourism Development Foundation. Also, the airport terminal building was upgraded and the runway resurfaced and extended with the assistance of Statia Terminal. Lights were installed on the runway, which made evening and night landings possible, and airlines such as Caribbean Sun and LIAT started servicing Statia.
The last 25 Golden Rock houses were built and several roads were constructed and resurfaced during Pompier’s term as Commissioner of Public Works. He was also very much involved with the development of Princess Garden and White Hook, and the construction of Gwendoline van Putten School.
Pompier was re-elected to a new four-year term in 1987, but after a brief but hectic period during which he became known as “Mr. No Comment” he resigned as commissioner in 1988 and remained as a member of the Island Council until the end of his term in 1991.
“The Statia community is thankful to him [Pompier – Ed.] and proud to have had him as a commissioner, and I hope that our gratitude would offer some consolation to his family. His political career really contributed to the development of the people of Statia,” Stegers said.
Former Island Councilman and Progressive Labour Party (PLP) leader Clyde van Putten described Pompier as a kind, helping and loyal person. “If someone needed his help he would respond with his favourite words, ‘No problem,’” Van Putten said. “Pompier’s successful political career has still left footprints in the sand of time.”
After his political career, Pompier worked with NuStar. He also became an entrepreneur running N. Pompier fuel station in Gallows Bay, Port Services and other businesses.
“Although Pompier suffered very much with his illness, he always walked the streets with a spring in his step and a song in his heart.” Van Putten said in the eulogy.