Territory Mourns the Loss of Statesman Holland Redfield

Bob White and Holland Redfield hug in friendship during one of their last meetings. (Photo provided by Bob White)

Most Virgin Islanders will remember Holland Redfield for his soothing voice that calmed them since 1995 through and after hurricanes. He voiced his last words of comfort and advice during the twin monsters – Hurricanes Irma and Maria in 2017.

Not wanting to leave the broadcast, he was rescued by the V.I. National Guard from his studio after it lost its roof.

Redfield died Saturday, Sept. 11, in Florida at the age of 78, at home with his daughter and grandchildren.

“It was the tone of his voice, calming at a time when there were more hysterics than calm. He was a great asset,” longtime friend Bob White told the Source. Redfield’s broadcast provided information for the community and those in charge of rescue and recovery always had a platform for their messages and instructions.

Daryl Jaschen, director of the V.I. Territorial Emergency Management Agency, said Redfield was “an extension of VITEMA.” He supported the territory in a number of ways during the storms. Not only did he broadcast information, but he also coordinated activities and introduced federal partners to their local counterparts.

“He was a beacon of the community,” Jaschen said.

Born in Syracuse, New York, Redfield was a military and commercial pilot. His father was the president of Pan Am Airlines, according to White. He came to St. Croix in 1969 after a tragic plane crash in which he almost lost his life on a runway at New York’s LaGuardia airport, White said.

“He was given the last rites on the tarmac,” he added.

When White relocated to St. Croix, he and Redfield met accidentally outside Redfield’s real estate office. Before being a realtor, Redfield, also known as “Dyke,” flew a seaplane for Antilles Airboats for some time.

“Holland – Dyke, you know?” he explained.

What bonded their friendship was politics, White and others said. They hosted “Straight Talk With Redfield” together, interviewing government officials, advocates and business people. Redfield told White he didn’t need to worry about what he said over the airwaves, “because nobody listens to us anyway.”

That wasn’t true. Many politicians and community leaders appeared on “Straight Talk with Redfield,” on Caribbean Country Radio 93.5 FM, because Redfield believed the motto, “Inform, don’t inflame.”

Jonathan Cohen, owner of Caribbean Country Radio 93.5 FM, said he thought of Redfield “more as a father than a colleague,” although the older man always called him “boss.” They became good friends over the years after meeting in the 1980’s. Although Redfield didn’t broadcast during Hurricane Hugo, he was “always there, before, during or after,” the other major hurricanes, beginning with Marilyn, Sept. 15, 1995.

Redfield entered politics in 1974 as an aide to Gov. Cyril E. King, who then appointed him to the Public Services Commission. He later served as chairman and was instrumental in decreasing long-distance telephone and potable water rates in the territory.

He also worked, off and on over the years for the Virgin Islands Telephone Company and Innovative, serving as vice president at Innovative.

Redfield served six terms as a senator from St. Croix between 1984 to 1998. He was known as a consumer advocate and supported economic development in the Virgin Islands. In 1994, he joined Judge Julio Brady in a campaign for governor and lieutenant governor (Redfield) but they were not successful.

Redfield was the national committee chair of the Republican Party, chair of the Island Caucus and a member of the V.I. Republican Party for years.

“He raised some eyebrows because he didn’t support Trump. That speaks to his courage,” Marvin Pickering, former chief financial officer of Cruzan Rum and director of the V.I. Bureau of Internal Revenue, said.

Pickering and Redfield became good friends after Pickering retired from Cruzan Rum and was a regular co-host on the talk show, providing election analysis and “ issues of the day.” He remembers Redfield introducing him to Gen. Russel Honore, an expert on disaster preparedness, who recently led the security review of the Jan. 6 insurrection.

“He knew the people of the Virgin Islands, in particular those of St. Croix,” Pickering said. “He really contributed to the people of the Virgin Islands.”

Redfield’s community involvement included the St. Croix Board of Realtors, the St. Croix Chamber of Commerce, the Muscular Dystrophy Association, Camp Arawak and the Knights Hospitaller.

White said he spoke with Redfield last month and knew he wasn’t well. However, they both talked about getting back to the island and the radio show.

Cohen said he had talked over the last several months with the former senator and that he wasn’t himself. Redfield said every time, he was coming home “next month.”

“I didn’t know if he was in denial or really a fighter,” he said.

Cohen said Redfield will be brought back to St. Croix for a memorial service and burial, perhaps at the end of September.

Monday, Caribbean Country Radio will host a two-hour tribute from 10 a.m. to noon. Friends and acquaintances can call 340-773-9951 and share thoughts and memories about Redfield.

Many people shared their thoughts and condolences. Here are some excerpts:

– “Holland was a dear friend, mentor and pillar of this community. His comforting words through countless storms and recovery periods always gave us the information we needed to get through the day and the wisdom to get through the years.” Gov. Albert Bryan Jr.

– “Sen. Redfield’s voice in our community will be sorely missed … Sen. Redfield always provided a platform for UVI to share important news and I personally enjoyed participating in his radio program over the years, speaking with him about issues concerning the prosperity of our islands and above all listening to his ideas and insights.” David Hall, University of the Virgin Islands president

– “The members of the 34th Legislature offer condolences to the family, friends and colleagues of Holland Redfield. During his time in office and countless times on the radio, Redfield would say, ‘The difference between a statesman and a politician is that a politician works for the next election and a statesman works for the next generation.’ Holland Redfield worked for generations of Virgin Islanders to come. He will be greatly missed.” Sen Donna Frett-Gregory, Senate president

– “Holland Redfield a friend, a mentor, a lover of everything Virgin Islands, has transitioned … He will be forever in the minds of all living beings that have come in contact with him. May his spirit continue to provide a positive influence on all of us.” Willard John on Facebook