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Ali M. Tarabay laid to rest

- tributes given by many whose lives he touched
A section of the audience at the memorial service. Photo: VINO
One of the sons of Ali Mohamad Tarabay, Abraham A. Tarabay, speaking at the service. Photo: VINO
One of the sons of Ali Mohamad Tarabay, Abraham A. Tarabay, speaking at the service. Photo: VINO
Premier Dr the Honourable D. Orlando Smith speaking at the service. Photo: VINO
Premier Dr the Honourable D. Orlando Smith speaking at the service. Photo: VINO
Minister for Natural Resources and Labour Dr the Hon Kedrick D. Pickering giving his tribute. Photo: VINO
Minister for Natural Resources and Labour Dr the Hon Kedrick D. Pickering giving his tribute. Photo: VINO
Rev Dr Melvin A. Turnbull making his contribution to the tributes. Photo: VINO
Rev Dr Melvin A. Turnbull making his contribution to the tributes. Photo: VINO
Ali Mohamad Tarabay. Photo: Facebook
Ali Mohamad Tarabay. Photo: Facebook
Widow of Ali Mohamad Tarabay, Mariam Tarabay. Photo: VINO
Widow of Ali Mohamad Tarabay, Mariam Tarabay. Photo: VINO
Imam Khalil Cave of the BVI Islamic Society speaking on the life of Ali Mohamad Tarabay. Photo: VINO
Imam Khalil Cave of the BVI Islamic Society speaking on the life of Ali Mohamad Tarabay. Photo: VINO
PURCELL, Tortola, VI – Tributes poured in from all walks of Virgin Islands life at a memorial service yesterday August 9, 2015, celebrating the life of Lebanese turned Virgin Islander businessman Ali Mohamad Tarabay, who left these earthly shores in the evening of August 7, 2015.

The body of Tarabay was interred at the Sea Cow’s Bay Cemetery at around 3:00 PM before the memorial service took place at the Davis Funeral Home in Purcell from around 4.30 PM.

Tarabay, who was born in Lebanon in 1930 and arrived in the Virgin Islands in 1968, set up the Tortola Department Store in 1971 after a few short years of selling items out of suitcases.

Tarabay was described as an astute yet compassionate and forward thinking businessman who did not just focus on making his bottom line look good but who ensured that people could afford the goods he sold, even if it meant them having to take items home and pay for them at a later date.

Persons who spoke fondly remember the little book that he had in which he kept a strict account of who owed him what, oftentimes sending payment requests for less than was actually owed.

In giving his tribute, Premier Dr The Honourable D. Orlando Smith spoke of Tarabay as operating the first ‘credit card’ system and of operating the first Sears and JC Penny, for his forward thinking business approach.

Shock at hearing the news

Former Leader of the Opposition and former Ninth District Representative Honourable Ralph T. O’Neal OBE spoke fondly of his memories with Tarabay.

He expressed shock at receiving the news of the death of the businessman and said that he could not do any more work for the balance of the day.

Never sought recognition

Imam Khalil Cave of the BVI Islamic Society described Tarabay as one of the most sincere persons he has met. “Whatever he did, he did for the Almighty. He never sought recognition for what he did,” said Cave. He spoke at length about Tarabay’s humility which he said was evident in the way he spoke. “You never heard him yell at anyone or speak condescendingly towards anyone,” Cave said.

Like a second father

First District Representative Honourable Andrew A. Fahie described Tarabay as being a second father to him. “Mr Ali [Tarabay] taught us that it was not about your duration but about your donation,” he said.

There were appeals for the establishment of a mosque in the BVI community, which Tarabay had called for, and also for something to be named in honour of Mr Tarabay. Further, there were appeals to members of the Muslim community to emulate the life of Tarabay.

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