TelEm Group family mourning sudden passing of pioneering Engineer Earl Thomas
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TelEm Group family mourning sudden passing of pioneering Engineer Earl Thomas

Network Engineer, Earlston Thomas, (right) with some of the original pioneering TelCell mobile team at the launching of St. Maarten’s first Digital mobile service in 1998. Network Engineer, Earlston Thomas, (right) with some of the original pioneering TelCell mobile team at the launching of St. Maarten’s first Digital mobile service in 1998.

SINT MAARTEN (POND ISLAND) - TelEm Group is mourning the sudden passing of Network Engineer, Mr. Earlston Thomas, during the early hours Sunday. He was 48.

Management and colleagues have expressed shock at the news of Mr. Thomas’ untimely death after being rushed to Hospital, Saturday.

Family and friends said he had reported some discomfort Friday, which necessitated a visit to the hospital where he was seen and then sent home with medication. Hours later his conditioned deteriorated and he was returned to the hospital Saturday night and pronounced dead early Sunday morning.

TelEm Group Chief Executive Officer (CEO), Mr. Kendall Dupersoy, says there has been an outpouring of calls from colleagues in the TelEm Group family and also from the general population expressing sympathy for the passing.

“We cannot express in words just how sorry we are to have received this news today,” said Mr. Dupersoy.

He paid tribute to the Network Engineer for being part of the original team who pioneered the building of first digital mobile service on St. Maarten. Until then all systems were analogue with customers paying for calls made and calls received.

“Earl was responsible for overseeing the placing and installation of cell sites needed for St. Maarten’s first digital switch, which also signaled a major evolution on mobile technology at the time. It also brought with it an end to the days when mobile subscribers paid for outgoing and incoming calls making TelCell an instant hit with customers at the time,” said the CEO.

He said Mr. Thomas was a veteran Engineer in the company and he had only recently warmed to a new lease of working life when he was named to an elite “Magnificent 7” team of technicians and engineers charged with steering TelEm Group’s Fiber to the Home Project in a new direction.

“Earl was very enthusiastic and genuinely wanted to show what he could do, especially after successfully expanding bandwidth services to the Festival Village in time for Carnival last year, and also after successfully improving telecommunication services at the Harbour Facility,” continued Mr. Dupersoy.

Chief Commercial Officer (CCO) Mr. Brian Mingo, with whom Mr. Thomas developed mobile provider TelCell from the ground up, said he made an outstanding contribution to telecommunication services offered by TelEm Group, noting that the engineers his skill and engineering ability will be missed.

“Earl was one of the key pillars in the 90’s and early 2000 in building out TelCell to the largest mobile network on St. Maarten. He was a local engineering talent raised and schooled on St. Maarten and the Netherlands but returned to build the St. Maarten Telephone Company’s first mobile network.

Chief Technical Officer (CTO) Mr. Eldert Louisa, has offered his own message of condolence to Mr. Thomas’ family and friends for his sudden loss, also pointing to his technical contribution to the company over the years. He said Mr. Thomas also scored a first when he spearheaded the installation of the very first GSM mobile network in the Caribbean, right here on St. Maarten.

“Mr. Thomas was confident in his knowledge of the company’s systems having helped set many of them up. Only last week I had cause to congratulate him on an action he had taken, causing me to think that he was very enthusiastic about tackling some new challenges that he was involved in. Mr. Thomas was a very intelligent Engineer with knowledge that will not be easy to replace,” said Mr. Louisa.

TelEm Group Chief Financial Officer (CFO) Mrs. Helma Etnel has also joined her colleagues in expressing condolence to the family of Mr. Thomas on their sad loss.

Close personal friend and colleague, Mr. Percival Cocks said of Mr. Thomas’ death: “We are going to miss a great man and a great worker who always wanted everything he did to be excellent, especially when it came to the company and customers.”

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