The late Derrick Holiday.
PHILIPSBURG–Calypsonian Rootsman’s “Live Nice” calypso was loved by former Police Chief Commissioner and labour mediator the late Derrick Holiday (64). His life as remembered by those who knew and worked with him mirrors the sentiments of the calypso that called on people to “live nice” with everyone they encountered and to give a helping hand wherever and whenever it was needed.
His passing in a time of social distancing due to the COVID-19 has prolonged the mourning of his family, friends and other loved ones. Holiday will be laid to rest today, Wednesday.
Holiday was taken by death on March 10 while in the Cayman Islands for treatment. His family fought a tough battle to get his mortal remains back home, due to restrictions in areas such as flights. This only happened at the end of last week, finally allowing the arrangements for his funeral.
Holiday has left an indelible mark on the former Netherlands Antilles (Windward Islands division), now St. Maarten Police Force.
Like many who don a uniform as a police officer, Holiday was stern, yet approachable. He did not mince words, but was very ready to offer reassurance and give information where necessary.
Former Lt. Governor Franklyn Richards, remembering Holiday, said, “I have known the late Commissioner Derrick Holiday to be a disciplinarian. His aim and drive were to raise the behavioural and educational standard of the St. Maarten Police Force with the aim of adequately equipping the force by making it autonomous and operating adequately in country St. Maarten.”
Richards said he and his wife Angela were “deeply saddened by the news of the passing of Commissioner Holiday. Our sincere condolences to the grieving families. May God give them the comfort and peace that they seek and may his soul rest in peace.”
Former Netherlands Antilles Justice Minister David Dick, domiciled in Curaçao, also weighed in on Holiday’s passing: “I remember Mr. Holiday as a good man … a person with his heart in the right place. He may never have mentioned it, but he always meant well and was protective of his officers and caring for those surrounding him.”
Dick said he will always remember Holiday for his welcoming smile and “his Cadbury chocolate in the afternoon.”
Chief Inspector Carlyle Rogers had very close contact with Holiday during his tenure as Police Chief Commissioner. Rogers was the union man and Holiday was a formidable but fair adversary at times. Rogers recalled that his late brother Chief Inspector Quintin Rogers and Holiday had been batch mates at the Police Academy in the early 1980s; he (Carlyle) joined the ranks later that decade.
“I was chief of the union and we would butt heads a lot, but he was a very fair guy. You know where you stood with him,” Rogers said, describing Holiday.
He only logged one negative incident between him and Holiday. The incident was pertaining to a police watch commander in Curaçao holding the rank of inspector, while in St. Maarten, the police officer executing that role had the rank of major. This occurred in the days of the Netherlands Antilles Police Force when all five islands (Curaçao, St. Maarten, Bonaire, Saba and St. Eustatius) were one joint police unit.
“We thought it was only fair to match it” here in St. Maarten, Rogers said. Holiday was not in favour of this move at the time and the union threatened to go to the Netherlands Antilles justice minister at that time. Holiday, recalled Rogers, said, “Do what you have to do,” and when the minister agreed with the stance, Holiday executed it.
Holiday “came up through the ranks.” This career path made him “very understanding” of the plight of the officers he commanded. “He had strong character, but was a fair and honest person,” Rogers said, adding that he wanted this to be remembered of his late colleague.
Holiday’s career with the Police Force ended in 2008 due to a court verdict. He later became government’s labour mediator in December 2010 in what was then the only-two-month-old “country” St. Maarten. He was appointed to the post by then-Minister of Labour Affairs Maria Buncamper-Molanus.
Remembering Holiday, Buncamper-Molanus said, “At the time of his appointment as labour mediator, he had just come out of a difficult period in his professional life. I received some flak for it, but he was the right man for the job. Mr. Holiday should be remembered for his positive contribution to this country. He wore his uniform with pride and carried out his job with distinction – a son of the soil who will be missed.”
Holiday had a decent working relationship with the press in St. Maarten. Newspaper editor/journalist Rajesh Chintaman said of Holiday, “Holiday valued the work of the press and I recall a very supportive Commissioner of Police. He had an ‘open door’ policy even though he had a very effective spokesman. On several occasions I was able to connect and clarify stories without much bureaucracy. He had a visible respect for the role of the media in the functioning of the Police Force.”
The late police commissioner did not have a good relationship with the media only in his professional capacity. As an avid cricketer from his youthful days, Holiday was the long-time captain of the Media Houses Cricket Team.
Sports journalist and St. Maarten Radio Network’s main broadcast journalist Steven Cyrillien, speaking about the late cricketer, said: “Holiday and I had a very interesting relationship, not only as chief of police, but as the captain of the Media House Cricket team. As a matter of fact, he started to play with the Media Houses team, then became the captain. He was also captain of the Rams and Media Houses teams.” Holiday also served as President of the St. Maarten Cricket Association.
“Holiday and I, like many others, had this cricketing understanding beyond just his job as commissioner of police,” said Cyrillien.
Sharing her grief, his sister, long-time educator now Philipsburg Jubilee Library Director Glenderlin Holiday wrote on Facebook: “Like most of us, Derrick was not perfect, but those who really knew him know he was an awesome human being. He had a heart of gold and compassion for every single one of his fellow men and never wavered to stand up for what was right. Not many dared to do that, and as his sister, I can attest that it cost him dearly.
“However, amidst all the accusations, the misinterpretation of his goodwill and love for St. Maarten’s development socially, economically and educationally, he still found the inner strength to always encourage his loved ones to ‘Live nice with your neighbour’, something our parents, Eugene Holiday Sr. and Leonie Holiday-Marsham instilled in us throughout their lives on earth with us.”
Holiday’s family “sincerely regrets that we can’t share his funeral service and burial with you, but we know you will be there with us in spirit and mind. We sincerely appreciate all your well wishes and support from a distance. We are one people despite the current boundaries.”
Holiday leaves to mourn his wife Jacqueline Holiday-Lewis, his sons Sylvester and Michael Holiday, his siblings and his extended family. Among his siblings are Governor Eugene Holiday and St. Maarten Medical Center (SMMC) Medical Director Dr. Felix Holiday.
Holiday was vice-president of the Philipsburg Mutual Improvement Association (PMIA).