Gov. Kenneth Mapp last week marked the passing of a well-known St. Thomas educator and author, Ruth-Marie Moolenaar, one of the territory’s significant culture bearers, who died at her home March 10 at the age of 99.
As an author she was widely known for her writings about Virgin Islands history, including a publication on the historic Savan neighborhood that was featured as part of the 1991 American Folklife Festival at the Smithsonian Institution.
She also wrote a book, “Legacies of Upstreet,” which chronicled the evolution of the neighborhood east of Government Hill on St. Thomas. “Profiles of Outstanding Virgin Islanders,” her third book, highlighted the achievements of notable Virgin Islanders at home and abroad.
“Her passing is a great loss to the territory,” Mapp said. “Mrs. Moolenaar educated and inspired countless Virgin Islanders to take greater interest in our local history and culture. Her love for the Virgin Islands was unwavering. She took great pride in documenting the stories, accomplishments and traditions of our people.”
Moolenaar served 42 years at the Department of Education. She later became the first principal of Jane E. Tuitt School and vice-chair of the Board of Education. She also served on many civic and cultural boards and was commended by the 20th Legislature in 1994.
In 2016, Moolenaar received an honorary doctorate degree for her achievements from the University of the Virgin Islands.
“It was a well-deserved tribute for her community service and love of education and Virgin Islands history. She will be so deeply missed, but her scholarly pursuits and commitment to our islands will not be forgotten,” Mapp said.
On March 20 the governor extended condolences to Moolenaar’s children – Dr. Gwen-Marie Moolenaar, Attorney Gwenneth Moolenaar, Dr. Lucien Moolenaar II and her adopted daughter, Ingrid Warrington.
“May her soul rest in eternal peace,” Mapp said.
An extended profile of Moolenaar was published by the Source in January 2006. It can be found here.