CHIEF MINISTER’S TRIBUTE TO THE LATE LEANDRO “LEE” RIZZUTO

anguillian
By anguillian December 25, 2017 11:07 Updated

 

 

 

The following tribute was written by the Hon. Chief Minister and Minister of Tourism, Mr. Victor Banks, who is off-island and was therefore unable to attend the Memorial Service for the late Mr. Leandro P. Rizzuto on Thursday, December 21st, at St. Gerald Catholic church:

Good Afternoon!

I regret that I am unable to be with all of you today, in person, to celebrate and to pay tribute to the life of my friend, and indeed Anguilla’s friend, the late Mr. Leandro Rizzuto. Many persons, depending on the circumstances, would call him “Mr. Rizzuto” but it was obvious that he felt very comfortable to be simply called “Lee”. Lee was a good man!
My first encounter with Mr. Rizzuto was across the conference table in the Chief Minister’s Office in 1994 when he was re-negotiating the first MoU for the Cuisinart Hotel. At that time no shovel had scratched the ground — but it was obvious that this was not going to be just talk. Lee was there to do business and he knew exactly what he wanted.

Once Lee secured an equitable agreement with the Government the next step was to make sure that the project would be exactly right. He always paid attention to detail. And therefore to enhance the quality of the project Lee felt that it was important to have further negotiations with neighbouring landowners. As fate would have it one of his neighbours was my late mother, Mrs. Marjorie Banks. Therefore in my private capacity I found myself on the other side of the bargaining table assisting that process.

Both of those encounters were pleasant experiences. Lee’s approach was always to be fair to all concerned. And in that regard you always knew where you stood with him. From that period onward I always felt comfortable doing business with Mr. Rizzuto and we built a relationship of mutual respect on the professional level — as well as a friendship based on trust and genuine care and concern on the personal level. Lee always wanted to know: “How is your family?” That question was more than just a courteous inquiry.

Mr. Rizzuto endeared himself to the people of Anguilla through his generosity and his willingness to maintain his investments in Anguilla even during the most challenging situations. And beyond the employer/employee relationship he was always concerned about the personal development of staff and therefore put in place benefit schemes as well as opportunities for education and training. To advance that agenda he used his personal contacts with Johnson & Wales University to provide training in the hospitality industry — because as a matter of policy he firmly believed that his investment was primarily to create opportunities for the Anguillian community.
He always expressed deep-rooted concern for the wholesome advancement of our young people. You could not have a meeting with Lee when he did not raise some question about education and training. Of course accentuated by his signature phrase: ”et cetera and et cetera!”

With the recent passing of Hurricane Irma, which severely damaged his properties here — Lee already committed to rebuilding and reopening his resorts to the tune of some US$40 million. In that process he also ensured that adequate provision was made for staff that would be impacted. He loved his staff and regarded them as family. He had no intention of walking away. It was reasonable to get the impression that Anguilla and his investments in Anguilla were dearest to his heart.
The entire Anguillian Community appreciated Lee — because of his obvious interest in our wellbeing. We all know that in terms of his worldwide assets — Anguilla was a drop in the bucket. But it seemed very clear that many of his investments here were for the most part made out of his love for the island and its people.
On behalf of the Government and People of Anguilla, as well as on my own behalf and that of my family, I extend sincere condolences to his entire family circle; loved ones; and close associates all across the globe whose lives he has touched in so many ways.

Mr. Rizzuto — Lee will be sorely missed! His contribution to Anguilla’s development, as well as his kindness and caring concern for our people will be remembered and appreciated for many years, many generations to come.
Let us as a grateful community pray that his soul may rest with his maker in eternal peace.

anguillian
By anguillian December 25, 2017 11:07 Updated

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