|October 24, 2003
Copyright © 2003 PUERTO RICO HERALD. All Rights Reserved.
A Great Man Passes How will he be remembered?
As this edition of the Herald closes this eventful week, the earthly remains of Don Luis A. Ferré returned yesterday to the place of his birth and special affection, Ponce, there lying in state in its Museum of Art, a building that he built in 1959 and endowed in his lifetime, vesting in it much of his superb collection of fine art. Today, in a private ceremony, his family will bid him a final farewell before his interment at Las Mercedes Cemetery in the same city.
Don Luis was a "Renaissance Man," talented and successful in so many ways. This week, we ask Herald readers to choose from among the many "lives" lived by Luis A. Ferré and speculate as to how he will be most remembered.
None among the thousands of Ponce residents who passed by his catafalque yesterday rivaled him in age - he died at 99 but most remembered seeing him or meeting with him at some time during his long life, strolling on that citys colonial streets or visiting in its homes, shops and restaurants. Some visitors to the museum recalled Don Luis personally providing a tour of its galleries or leading a discussion about one of his favorite pieces of art on display.
His death early Tuesday morning of pneumonia after several weeks of hospitalization drew expressions of condolence and statements of praise from all over the United States, including from President George H. W. Bush, a friend, and President George W. Bush, an admirer. Governor Sila Calderon and all living former Puerto Rico Governors, as well as the islands leaders of government, culture and commerce were quick to add their praise of the man and grief at his passing. Fellow members of the New Progressive Party (NPP), which Don Luis established, spoke of his unfulfilled dream of U.S. Statehood for Puerto Rico, rededicating themselves to work tirelessly for its accomplishment.
Without doubt, Luis Ferré numbers among the great Puerto Ricans of the Twentieth Century. In life he was memorialized with a bust in the Puerto Rican Capitol building, in recognition of his role in establishing local self-government and serving as a Governor (1969 1972). Additionally he served as a legislator in both houses, including holding the office of President of the Senate (1977 1980). Until his death, he was the leader of the Republican Party of Puerto Rico and active in the policy development process of the National GOP. In 1991, the nation of his citizenship decorated him with its highest honor for a U.S. citizen, the Presidential Medal of Freedom.
The many tributes to Don Luis over the past week point to his accomplishments in the fields of business, the arts and public life. They also herald his personal qualities of loyalty, tact and generosity. People who have disagreed with his political vision for Puerto Rico might point to others as their choice for the centurys "greatest," but none can doubt that his virtuosity in so many fields of human endeavor, all dedicated to the physical, political and cultural development of Puerto Rico, qualify him as the Centurys Puerto Rican Man for All Seasons."
In your opinion, how will Don Luis be best remembered?
Please vote above!