Remembering Frank Mingo: “A force to be reckoned with”POSTED: 08/28/15 4:53 PM
St. Maarten / By Andrew Dick – The late Frank Mingo was a force to be reckoned with says Prime Minister Marcel Gumbs who served with him in the Netherlands Antilles Parliament prior to October 10, 2010. Born in Aruba on February 1948, Frank Elliot Mingo was also known as Frankie or Pappie, the son of Clara Hunt and Frank Emmanuel Mingo Sr. Both of his parents moved to Aruba in the early 50’s to work at the Lago oil refinery, a subsidiary of Standard Oil Company in New Jersey.
Gumbs considered Mingo a close friend. “I met him when he took over his father’s gas station many years ago. A lot of people don’t know that he was very much involved with gas on the island. Frank was very outspoken, he used to write articles about the economy and his visions for the financial sector for the daily newspaper at the time, The Chronicle. Frank was also a teacher and served on various supervisory boards.”
Mingo went to school in Aruba and moved to the Netherlands to further his studies in chemical engineering. This was primarily due his dad’s association with petroleum products and LPG gas. He played baseball with JEKA baseball team and played saxophone in his free time. After he completed his engineering school (HTS) he was recruited by Shell Curacao where he worked for seven years before he returned to St. Maarten in 1977.
Mingo was an educator for a short time at the Milton Peter College, where he taught physics. He was said to have mystique ways of explain things by simplifying his lessons and this was also remembered by many of his students.
Gumbs recalls Mingo being instrumental for the Democratic Party by preparing several strategies and policies for the party. “When Frank was Minister of Finance in 1998, I was state secretary and our offices were right next to each other. We worked many nights, dealing with issues that needed to be dealt with right away in the interest of the Antilles at the time. Frank was also known for creating computer software’s to crunch numbers and forecasts.” Gumbs said.
Mingo was well known as “the gas man” back in the 80’s after he took the business over from his dad. He became an entrepreneur in the real estate business and eventually a well-known character in the political arena where he was a very outspoken person who gave his knowledgeable opinion on matters such as budgets, kingdom relations, the perusal of our local officials during the 90’s by The Hague, and other important matters.
Gumbs recalled one of the memorable moments in his career was dealing with a budget Mingo presented as Netherlands Antilles Finance Minister and the Y2K or millennium bug. The bug was an anticipated computer flaw that may have caused problems at the change of the millennium at midnight January 1, 2000. “We used 2.3 million guilders from the budget of the Ministry of Finance to refurbish all the computers of the central government. He always joked with me and said that I waited until he was off island to convince the Council of Ministers to take it from his budget,” said Gumbs
Whether good or bad he gave his feedback and always preached how to remain and stay on a straight line. “Education is the primary tool for becoming independent, for both a person self-supporting, away from its parents as well as a small island away from its kingdom. If we ever want to self-govern, we need to work on educating our people. Not having this done, it will never work.” This was also preached at home, where his first set of children, all got academic degrees and played an important part in the development of his much loved island of St. Maarten.
Democratic Party Leader Sarah Wescot Williams has her own words to describe Mingo. “Frank served the DP and his country exceptionally well. He was part of the Antillean political environment, which was never easy for Windward Islanders to maneuver in. I recall when as Minister, Frank would always have his tasks and priorities outlined on a dry board in black, green and red. Always very organized.”
“A little known fact is that Frank was one of the writers of our articles of incorporation and bylaws, when in 1994, the DP established itself as an association. He was also on one of the first boards of that very association. Many of the DP family remember one of Frank’s famous statements in Antillean politics, when he said he wanted to “piddle.” Wescot-Williams says. “He dared not leave the room, as he was convinced the others would have tried to pull something during his absence. For many of us, it was the first time, we had heard that word and we joked about that for years. Frank was stern and meticulous, but with a great sense of humor. During one of his first political speeches, he gave a complete economic presentation. That too was a first, as those political meetings were and to a great extent still are where people go to be amused, not heard about economics but Frank did not budge. He calmly and unperturbed delivered his presentation. May his soul rest in peace.”
Frank Mingo did a lot for the island whether it was an advisory role or an active political role, the development of the island and its people was always a personal part of his life. Subsequently after being a minister, Mingo was a Member of Parliament for three years in the Netherlands Antilles Parliament before retiring from active politics. During his stint as Member of Parliament he stated “the Netherlands Antilles did not want to solve or rather heal its financial situation, the Netherlands Antilles rather wants to remain wounded. If we do not all chip in to solve our deficit, what is the sense to try and fix it?” he said frequently in media interviews.
Frank Mingo became ill in October 2014; before that, he was never sick. He was diagnosed with a rare blood disease called Amyloidosis. He passed away on August 14 at the age of 68. He will be buried today in Grand Case.