TCI News

Official good-byes for Oehleo Higgs, questions linger but memories are fond

#BottleCreek, North Caicos, Turks and Caicos Islands – Monday June 11, 2018 – Standing well over six feet tall, you always saw him coming. A spring gave life to his step, a twinkle gave illumination to his eyes and a beaming, sincere smile made his an unforgettable face. North Caicos over the weekend officially said good bye to a son of the soil, one gone much too soon for those who knew and loved him; Oehleo Higgs was just 29 years old.

Anyone who met him could tell he was ambitious, with dreams which would not be stunted by his youth…

Oehleo was, I guess, genetically predisposed to being an over achiever or high flyer; A Higgs and a Clare; two fiercely passionate, uncommonly articulate and seriously sharp families of these islands.

On his LinkedIn professional profile, Oehleo said of himself, “I aspire to be nothing but the best in whatever career venture my future leads me. I will strive to remain on the “cutting edge” while ensuring that I am able to continuously measure the growth, stability, evolution and prosperity on my journey to accomplishing my goals.

Moreover, I am dedicated to contributing my knowledge and experience gathered to assist other individuals or groups in my local community and worldwide.”

Oehleo Higgs was likely most well known for his work with the TCI Tourist Board as a senior media relations officer and for his community service, in developing the first Miss Teen Turks and Caicos pageant.

On May 19, 2018 we lost 29-year-old Higgs and now the Turks and Caicos Islands find, that so many months following hurricanes Irma and Maria, we are still losing the most precious of treasures; our people.

Reports are, that Oehleo was attending doctor in Jamaica when he died; his illness said to be related to exposure to mold which had infested the upper floor of his apartment in Providenciales in the aftermath of the hurricanes.

On Saturday, Oehleo Higgs, who hails from North Caicos and is the son of Paul Higgs (the third) and Rosella Clare-Higgs and the nephew of Tourism Minister, Hon Ralph Higgs – was laid to rest.

The funeral service was held on Saturday morning at the Lighthouse Church in Bottle Creek, North Caicos.

Oehleo is a graduate of Raymond Gardiner High and one who remembers him fondly says he was a go-getter, competitive.

Among his accomplishments professionally, of which there are many were that he ‘spearheaded and launched the Tourist Board’s initial digital marketing initiative for the Brazilian market and implemented on-going strategies to ensure the destination’s brand continues to grow within in the Latin-American region, that he managed film and photo shoot clearances for major publications seeking film production in the Turks and Caicos  and while at the Tourist Board he was often spokesperson and representative at major international trade and
consumer shows, seminars and conferences.

While at the Somerset, Oehleo served as a front office agent where he directly ensured guests were comfortable and happy.  The young man, who had a BSC degree in Communications from Florida International University, FIU, also worked at Beaches Resort Villages and Spa for a season of his life where he listed his experiences as: serving as brand guardian of the Beaches Resort by overseeing its reputation internally among team members, locally, regionally and in the international community; he also promoted the resort as a credible vacation destination throughout the world by supporting international marketing activities and Mr. Higgs maximized opportunities for exciting community relations activities through the resort’s charity, the Sandals Foundation, by supporting community, education and environmental outreach initiatives.’

The loss of this young talent came as a crushing, sudden blow to his family… and thousands of others, including Magnetic Media which had featured Oehleo countless number of times in his role at the TCI Tourist Board on our shows and within our newscasts and stories.

As a news organization, losing Oehleo got us wondering how on earth this kind of an end could have happened to such a vivacious individual. Magnetic Media reached out to the TCI Hospitals to ask about the diagnosis.  Was the root cause of his illness missed we penned?  Was he misdiagnosed?

But there, we only found that a covenant of confidentiality would allow no answers to a burning question… how did this happen?

It is the second reported death by mold poisoning in these islands within weeks.  It has been traumatic for both families.  We express our condolences to those coping with the losses.

Malique Ferrette, who is currently studying at university abroad is the first Miss Teen Turks and Caicos; the first of the young woman he put on an international platform where they represented our islands in stellar form.

Malique told us about the profound impact, young Oehleo had on her life and her grooming. 

“I found myself dreaming of becoming Ms. Turks and Caicos one day. Thinking that I could make a difference through that platform, I began to get excited only to find that the rules had changed. I was too young at 17 to register in that capacity but wouldn’t you know, God had a plan! He  had given a young man the desire to start something new and transformative in this country. That something was the start of Miss Teen Turks and Caicos Universe. I’m not sure that Oehleo realized just how impactful it would be or how significant this would be to his legacy. He’s left an impression in history that can never be removed! Through the vision God placed in him, my voice was heard and the notion that pageantry is about more than beauty became a reality. Because of Oehleo’s efforts, I was able to connect with the youth of our country in way that I couldn’t have otherwise. God used him for a season to put me in a position where my own skills and challenges could truly help others. For that I am forever grateful. His bubbly personality and infectious smile will not be forgotten. The gentleness of his spirit will carry on and his legacy is one now etched into the very history that has lead to this day.

Thank you Father for his life. Thank you Father for his legacy. Thank you Father for letting me know the sweet soul that was Oehleo Higgs.”

Yes, thank you for Oehleo Higgs; a media colleague, community builder and fine friend.

Oehleo’s loved ones are very possessive of the memories we keep of him, and rightly so… they miss him, especially his mother Rosella with whom he was very close, we are told.  The Family asks simply, for people to remember these three things of their beloved boy: ‘Live, Love, Laugh. That was our Oehleo. He lived, he loved and he laughed.’


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