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St. Thomas, Virgin Islands
Valdemar A. Hill, Sr., was born in St.
Thomas, Virgin Islands, on May 1, 1914. His
educational background includes: Charlotte
Amalie High School;a summer session in General
Economics at Columbia University in 1944;
received an A.B. degree in Political Science from
McKinley-Roosevelt College, Chicago, in 1947;
and obtained an LLB degree from La Salle
Extension University, Chicago in 1952.
Mr. Hill entered the local government
service as an employee in the Department of
Health in 1932. In 1937 he was one of the
organizers of the first political party in the
Virgin Islands, THE PROGRESSIVE GUIDE.
This organization was founded in order to make
the masses of people aware of their new respon-
sibilities under the 1936 Organic Act, which
granted universal suffrage to the citizens of the
He served as the leader of the Progressive
Guide from 1939 to 1945. During that time he
was elected on the party's ticket to the Municipal
Council of St. Thomas / St. John in 1940,
thereafter was re-elected in 1942 and 1944. Mr.
Hill sponsored Legislation for the first minimum
wage law, which is known as "Hill's Wage and
Hour Law". In order to get the Governor to
approve this significant piece of social legis-
lation, Mr. Hill led a march to Government
House on behalf of the people, in 1941. He also
sponsored legislation for evening school for
adults, rent control, improving housing, sani-
tation, hospitalization, poor relief, and the first
Anti-Discrimination Act (1945).
During his term in the legislative body he
served on all of the important committees, and
was elected Chairman of the body in 1944, and
Chairman of the Finance Committee from 1941
to 1943. He also served as Secretary of the
Legislative Assembly of the Virgin Islands. In
addition, Mr. Hill served as a member of the St.
Thomas / St. John School Board for many
years, and was Chairman of the Board in 1944.
He also served as Chairman of the St. Thomas
Library Commission for about 15 years.
When he resigned from the Legislative
body at the end of 1945, the Legislative As-
sembly of the Virgin Islands adopted a Resolu-
tion, dated December 3, 1945, which stated in
"For his brilliant career and achievements
in his local legislative body, the Municipal
Council of St. Thomas and St. John; in the
Virgin Islands Legislature, the Legislative As-
sembly of the Virgin Islands; in bodies represent-
ing the Virgin Islands in the outside world; and
for the intrinsic benefits these have meant and
still mean to the people of the Virgin Islands,
the Legislative Assembly is resolved that some
testimonial of the sentiments of the people
of the Virgin Islands should be recorded and
presented to Mr. Hill through their legislative
Mr. Hill served for 20 years (1944 to 1964)
as a Virgin Islands representative to Caribbean
Conferences on regional economic and social
development. In 1941 he was named "Man of
the Year" by the Alumni Association of the
Charlotte Amalie High School.
He served as Tax Assessor and Water
Commissioner for the Municipality of St.
Thomas / St. John from 1946 to 1948. He was
then appointed as Administrative Assistant to
Governor William H. Hastie, (1948 1949), and
served in the same capacity to Governor Morris
F. DeCastro (1950 1954). He then became
Legislative Consultant to the Legislature of the
Virgin Islands, 1955 1957, and Special Con-
sultant to the Judiciary Committee of the
Legislature reviewing the V.I. Code 1959-1961.
In 1961 he was appointed as Special Assistant to
Governor Ralph M. Paiewonsky, and became the
first Commissioner of Housing and Community
Renewal in 1962, which post he resigned in 1964.
Mr. Hill has been a liberal political leader
for many years advocating social and economic
! reforms for the benefit of the masses of people
in the Virgin Islands. In his book, "Angry Men -
Laughing Men", published in 1947, Wenzell
Brown included Mr. Hill among the Caribbean
leaders. He stated:
"Finest ingredients in the swirling cauldron
are the idealistic men of the Caribbean. Some
of these are political and trade union leaders
like Albert Gomes of Trinidad, Grantly Adams
and Hugh Springer of Barbados, Ramulo Bentan-
court of Venezuela, Valdemar Hill of the Virgin
Islands, Luis Munoz of Puerto Rico, and scores
of others ... These are the hope of the Islands
and the lands which border the Caribbean to the
During his political career, Mr. Hill was a
leader in organizing many liberal political
movement in the Islands, including the Liberal
Party in 1948; the Unity Party in 1952; he was
instrumental in the merger of the Unity Party
and Democratic Party in 1963 and assisted in
drafting the first Election Code for the Virgin
Islands in 1963.
In 1967, in commemoration of the semi-
centennial of the Transfer of the Virgin Islands
from Denmark to the United States of America,
Mr. Hill published a book, "A Golden Jubilee"
covering the historical events, economic and
social progress in the Islands.
In 1970 Mr. Hill was a candidate for guber-
natorial race for first elected governor. Even
though unsuccessful in the bid, he, however,
fulfilled a life dream by entering the race.
His latest work, "Rise to Recognition"
(1971) is an informal history of the social,
political and economic progress of black islanders.
His marriage to Florence nee Molyneaux,
produced eight children all of whom are cur-
rently employed in outstanding positions.
- __ --.d
"So live that in the after years,
Friends will remember you. .. Borst
The final chapter in the life of Valdemar A.
Hill, Sr. has not been written because he is no
longer with us. Instead, the pages of his life
loom beautiful and significant as they are
His life was indeed a mirror; reflecting
Virgin Islands history in the turbulent trans-
itional years when we changed from one mother
country Denmark to another the United
States. He took part and wrote of these exciting
He began as a young idealist and leaves us
as a mature legislator, historian, author, and
civic leader. Early in his life he learned of the
mechanics of the democratic process and how
it keeps America viable. These he applied to the
Virgin Islands for he had an unswerving belief
in the islands, their people and their destiny.
He remained and worked in the islands to see
these dreams fulfilled.
As a school boy he walked over Govern-
ment Hill when it was occupied by naval govern-
ors. He listened to the cries for civilian governors.
He saw civilian governors appointed. He dreamt
of the day of an elected governor. He worked
for the coming of that day. He saw it come to
pass. He wrote of all these and more.
The Government Boards and Committees
on which he served are legion. The working man
in the Virgin Islands is indeed indebted to him
for he wrote the first Wages and Hour Law; an
instrument that was to serve as the base for
riany of the gains made by workers in the
His service was not limited to his beloved
Virgin Islands. He served and was recognized
as one of the leaders in Caribbean Affairs in the
days of the quest of their people for autonomy
There were other avenues to the rich and
full life of this Son of the Virgin Islands. He
wrote poetry, published a magazine, and was the
author of many books and articles. He also
served as a lay-officer in his church.
The final chapter is the beginning; for he
leaves a living legacy reflecting his time our
time and inspiring the generations to come.
So let us wrap the rich drapery of all his
achievements around him and lay him down to
pleasant dreams. R.W. Vanterpool
With the passing of Valdemar Hill, Sr., the
Virgin Islands has lost one of its truly great
citizens. I have worked with Mr. Hill for many
years, and know well the caliber of this fine
public servant, who fought so hard, beginning
as a young man hardly more than twenty, for
the progress of the Virgin Islands.
There is scarcely any area in which Wally,
as many affectionately knew him, has not fought
vigorously for the betterment of the Virgin
Islands community. His concerns were not
limited to housing, civil rights, parliamentary
procedures and labor but extended to every
area of the human involvement. He spent many
years drafting, introducing and fighting for
legislation in all of these fields, which affected
the very lifeblood of our community.
Without qualification, I can say that I
have personally benefitted greatly from his
experience in public life, as has almost everyone
else in the Virgin Islands. When Mr. Hill left the
Legislative Council in 1945 a Resolution honor-
ing him for his devoted service was passed
He will be remembered as an author,
historian and humanitarian, of course. But those
of us who worked with him in public office will
always regard him as one of our greatest and
most progressive leaders.
Mr. Hill was not only my colleague and
advisor, but a long-time personal friend as well,
and I grieve at his passing. My family, my col-
leagues in the Legislature all of us extend our
heartfelt condolences to his widow, Florence
and his eight fine sons and daughters.
Elmo D. Roebuck
The passing of Valdemar Hill, Sr. is a great
loss to the people of the Virgin Islands. He was
a thinker, a leader and a man of great resource-
fulness. He was unafraid to stand up and fight
for what he believed to be right and best for his
He served as a private citizen in many
notable positions; as a member of the Executive
Branch of our Government and as the first
Commissioner of Housing for the Virgin Islands.
He also served in the Legislative Branch of the
Government in various capacities.
His talents and contributions have been
recognized by Virgin Islanders in all walks of
life. In the history of the Virgin Islands the
name of Valdemar Hill, Sr. will be listed among
its great leaders. In his children he has left a
legacy to his people to carry on the unfinished
Mrs. Paiewonsky and I send you our deep-
est sympathy. Ralph M. Paiewonsky
Wally was one of the principal architects of
the social, economic and political programs
which have improved the quality of life in these
islands. He devoted his lifetime to the service of
his people, putting his unlimited energy and
resoucefulness and varied talents entirely at their
disposal. His leadership inspired me and so many
others to follow in his footsteps of leadership
and dedication. His contributions were significant
and everlasting. Earl B. Ottley
My earliest association with Wally Hill
began with the planning and organizing of the
Progressive Guide. His untiring efforts to pro-
mote our islands and their people socially,
politically, and economically will long be re-
He early set goals for himself and through-
out his earthly days moved slowly but stead-
fastly to achieve them. Those who followed his
career admired him and recognized in him the
leader deep thinker, close planner, respecter
of other people's abilities, and a worker who
counted time in terms of accomplishments.
Gwendolyn E. Kean
The Board of Directors, Management and
Staff of WTJX-TV, Channel 12, mourn the
passing of Valdemar Hill, Sr., our friend, Coun-
sel, and a constructive critic of our many, some-
A husband, father, leader, and friend
He truly was to the very end
Very talented and of goodwill
An author, a writer, a man of great skill.
times halting efforts, to serve the Virgin Islands
communities. We will miss his pleasant, but
firm guidance and his vast fount of knowledge
which he so gladly shared with us because he
loved the Virgin Islands so much.
Members of the St. Thomas Public Inform-
ation Association mourn the passing of our
active, dedicated member from the earliest days
in 1969, Valdemar Hill, Sr. His counsel as par-
liamentarian helped the organization to a
healthy beginning. The Constitution he had
recently prepared will be our monument to his
vigorous belief in the principle of the public's
"right to know".