Leo Sibilly Sr., longtime businessman, community leader and St. Thomas's first Carnival king, died Thursday at the Roy Schneider Regional Medical Center. He was 87.
News of Sibilly's death was released Thursday afternoon by Government House.
“Mr. Sibilly was a family friend to both Cecile’s and my parents," Gov. John deJongh Jr., said Thursday. "Today we share his family’s and the community’s sense of loss. He was unquestionably the patriarch of the Sibilly family. He lived a long and rich life, one that contributed to the benefit of many and the growth of our community.”
In 1952, Sibilly reigned with his wife, Carmen, as the first king of Carnival, according to the Government House release. The couple continued its commitment to Carnival through the Gypsy Troupe and the founding of the Ramblers Club.
“It seems like only yesterday that Leo and Carmen were honored on the occasion of Carnival’s 50th anniversary,” deJongh said. “And while in recent years, they no longer walked the mile-long parade route in costume, their children and grandchildren have continued the effort to maintain the Carnival tradition.”
Sibilly also was remembered for his military service and his business acumen with a construction company that was active in the development of St. Thomas. Throughout his life, he was an active member of his community and his church – a parishioner at Our Lady of Perpetual Help – the governor said.
Two of Sibilly's six adult children are members of the deJongh administration: Monique-Sibilly Hodge is assistant commissioner of Tourism and Joseph Sibilly is the Department of Education’s deputy superintendent of schools in the St. Thomas-St. John district.
DeJongh recalled that the Sibilly family played a large part in his childhood.
“My father grew up with him, was a good friend and always spoke highly of Leo Sibilly. They were inseparable as children," the governor said. "My brothers and I have heard countless stories about the debates and at times, heated political arguments that Leo Sibilly, my father and Cecile George would engage in. They were all members of the (Charlotte Amalie High School) Class of 1944."
DeJongh added that that contact continued after he became governor.
"On occasion, Mr. Sibilly would share certain tidbits of information about his experiences with me – to put things in perspective,” he said.
“On behalf of my wife, Cecile, our families and a grateful Virgin Islands community, we offer heartfelt condolences to Carmen, his six children and the extended Sibilly family. May the fond memories of times shared be a source of solace and comfort as together we mourn the loss of Leo Sibilly Sr.” deJongh said.
Tributes for Leo Sibilly Sr. can be sent to tributesforLeo@gmail.com