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In Memoriam: Phillip Nassief (1933-2024)

It is with heavy hearts that we honor the life and legacy of Phillip Nassief, the visionary behind Fort Young Hotel (1986) Ltd. whose profound influence positively impacted Dominica’s economic and social landscape. Phillip passed away on April 28th, 2024, leaving behind a legacy of entrepreneurship, generosity, and community spirit.

After completing his education at McGill University in Canada, Phillip returned to Dominica, where he took the helm of his father’s modest rum business and started a soap operation which became Dominica Coconut Products Ltd (DCP), Dominica’s leading manufacturing enterprise and a Caribbean success story. Under his leadership, DCP flourished, becoming renowned for its quality products and exemplary management practices. Phillip’s commitment to his employees, his community, and the region at large earned him widespread admiration and respect.

Phillip addressing a meeting in the early days of Fort Young Hotel

Phillip’s impact extended beyond the manufacturing industry. In 1986, with a group of local investors, he led the revitalization of the Fort Young Hotel which had been destroyed by Hurricane David in 1979, transforming it into a cornerstone of Dominica’s tourism industry. For Phillip, Fort Young Hotel was a never-ending quest for perfection, from the volume of the music in the dining room, the warmth of the buns served prior to dinner, the correct glass used for an aperitif or cocktail. From his early appointment as Chairman and tenure through to 2013, he directly and intimately oversaw the post-David reconstruction and every improvement and addition thereafter.

Phillip (left), His Excellency Vernon Shaw, President of Dominica, and Mrs. Shaw at the Opening of the Fort Young Hotel in 1989

Beyond his business acumen, Phillip was a humanitarian at heart. He spearheaded initiatives to uplift his community, including establishing a senior citizen’s home and supporting small businesses through the National Development Foundation (NDFD). His philanthropic endeavors extended even further with the creation of the Elias Nassief Foundation, dedicated to aiding those in need, particularly the elderly.

His dedication to development and ethics earned him numerous accolades including in 1977, Dominica’s highest honor, the Dominica Award of Honor. In 2002, Caricom honored him as one of the Caribbean’s Leading Voices of the 20th Century. And in 2004, he was honored by the American Foundation of the University of the West Indies, as “among the luminaries of the past 100 years who have left their indelible mark on the Caribbean region and the world”.

Phillip Nassief’s passing leaves a void in the hearts of many, but his legacy of innovation, compassion, and community empowerment will continue to inspire generations to come.

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