Posted: Friday, September 30, 2022. 11:03 am CST.
Тhе vіеwѕ ехрrеѕѕеd іn this аrtісlе аrе those оf the writer аnd nоt nесеѕѕаrіlу those оf Вrеаkіng Веlіzе Nеwѕ.
By Tracey Taegar-Panton: It is with profound sadness that I stand here to offer the United Democratic Party’s most heartfelt condolences to the Simmons Family: Wilmot mom, Ms Lena; his sons: LeShaun and Kaiser; his sisters, Jennifer, Juliet, Tanya; his brothers: Gerald, Michael, Neil; his girlfriend Deyanira and all other family members as we pay our final respects to Wilmot Huestes Raymond Simmons more affectionately referred to as Mot by many of us: beloved, son, father, brother, brother-in-law, uncle, cousin, friend, agronomist, community activist, sports fanatic, political commentator, analyst, advocate, Belizean Patriot and UDP Stalwart. Wilmot wore many hats, and he wore each one well. While our hearts ache at such a monumental loss, we offer gratitude for a life well-lived.
I first met Wilmot in the latter part of 2003, a little after I met the love of my life Herbert, during a bi-election campaign in Cayo South that was settled in favor of the UDP and considered to be a major upset within the political landscape at that time. It was my first exposure to the “fire in his belly” so I know very little of the radical he must have been in his younger years growing up here in San Ignacio.
Kenrick Ysaguirre a close friend and school mate recalls that as young as 17 while attending Belize Technical College, Wilmot displayed a definite bias for the UDP. In 1981 as the story is told, while BTC students were protesting a political directive by the PUP to suspend several students indefinitely, Mott jumped into action an invited Odinga to speak to the protesting students. At Wilmot’s prompting Odinga lead the protest through the streets of Belize City, resulting in the closing down of the school compound. As they say, the rest is history.
In Belize City, Wilmot served on the Freetown Constituency Committee for several UDP aspiring Standard Bearers: Dough Singh, Michael Peyrefitte, Lee Mark Chang and Dr. Carla Barnett. He worked in the trenches and gave his heart to both our candidates and UDP supporters in Freetown. Even though we endured many defeats in that constituency, he was never defeated. He kept on working assiduously for the greater good of the constituency and the party. Former Party Chairman Doug Singh recounted in a recent conversation with me, (and I quote): “Wilmot was a loyal UDP, one who was unafraid to defend the positions of the party on any personal or public platform. He had broad base appeal and was well respected in both the business and sports world. His voice and contributions helped to bolster the credibility of the party”. (End of quote)
I can vividly recall how proud he was, in 2020 when he received the Belizean Patriot Award from the UDP in recognition for his lifelong commitment to community service and national development. He was not a man who needed accolades but the recognition by Party Officials meant the world to him. I can attest that Belizean Patriot he was. Wilmot was a voice to be reckoned with. He defended the UDP vociferously and he was zealous about the issues that were affecting Belize’s growth and development.
In the Dean Barrow UDP Administration, he was a regular caller and mobile correspondent to Wave Radio’s Fus Ting Da Mawning Show and took on issues of national importance in almost every sector of Belize’s economy. He was always well-versed; well-researched; thought provoking and fiery in his rebuttals. None of us will forget the national debate he sparked in 2013 on genetically engineered seeds: GMO verses Non-GMO. The debate was so fierce that it attracted commentary from Belizean intellectuals and experts both here at home and abroad. Wilmot held his ground. He spoke his truth to power, and advocated for the rights of the small farmer. He made it clear that Prosser, his employer (for the past 35 years), the registered agent for Monsanto, would only consider, the marketing of GMO in seeds in Belize after the government had passed the necessary legislation for its importation and cultivation. If Wilmot was involved, he would hold himself and all others to full account. He was a man of integrity and great conviction for the issues he championed.
Wilmot loved a good debate whether Saturday mornings in front of Brads at the Farmers Market, on Sunday afternoons at 187 Beltex Crescent or on Friday nights on my back verandah at University Heights. These conversations went into the wee hours of the morning over a good bottle of scotch, taking breaks in-between to sing a karaoke song or two. Whenever the battle cry was sounded Mot was among the first on the frontline. When called to service to country he had no hesitations. Wilmot served as the Chairman, of the Belize District Liquor Licensing Board. He was also appointed to the Integrity Commission of Belize and on the Governing Boards for BAHA, BWSL and the Citrus Growers Association.
Wilmot like the many of the UDP Stalwarts that have gone before him this year represented both the heart and soul of the party. He believed whole-heartedly in the founding principles and values of the UDP and he lived them. Where the UDP was concerned, he never shied away from calling party officials out when decisions taken did not serve the greatest good. He admitted that those incidences were uncomfortable but necessary.
He was a great defender of Belize’s democracy and made countless contributions to the work of nation building. Wilmot took up a lot of space in the Belizean psyche and in our daily lives. He used his travels to every length and breadth of this county to keep his finger on the national pulse and never missed a beat. Wilmot made his mark: son of the soil, defender of democracy, true Stalwart of the UDP. The examples he imbued will live on in all the lives he touched in every village, town, district.
On a more personal note, our family’s relationship with Wilmott evolved over the years we shared and he became part of my extended family circuit. To my daughters Adreanna and Hope, he was Uncle Wilmot. He brought levity and much joy to his work, relationships, and life. In an atmosphere that can often be venomous and vindictive, he staved off any attacks with an easy laugh and a quick joke. He was kind, he was generous, and he did not take himself too seriously.
Thank you for your service Wilmot Huestes Raymond Simmons. We call your name knowing it is well with your soul. Thank you for your duty to country; thank you for your unwavering commitment to the United Democratic Party; thank you for your friendship over the years. Thank you too Mrs. Simmons for raising such an outstanding human being and sharing him with the rest of us. You have every reason to be proud. He made the world a better place by being in it.
Your work here on earth is done. You were indisputably a 5-Star General of the UDP. Rest Easy my brother and friend. We will meet again on other side of the Jordan.
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