Willie, in his 44th year, according to report, sadly passed to the great beyond during the morning hours of Tuesday, 13 July at Liberia’s largest referral hospital, the John F. Kennedy Memorial Center, with his cause of death yet unknown. Prior to his demise, the versatile broadcaster had transitioned from mainstream journalism, where he worked for both the Catholic-owned Radio Veritas and the erstwhile Star Radio, then onto public relation duties; serving the Government of Liberia at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, as Assistant Minister for Public Affairs; the Ministry of Gender, as Director of Communication; before moving on to the Ministry of Finance Development Planning (MFDP), as Head of the MFDP’s media services unit, a post he occupied up to the time of his death.
Willie worked as a journalist for well over a decade, in the roles of sports reporter and editor, commentator and analyst at Radio Veritas and the now defunct Star Radio, and even went on to serve as anchor for regular news programs at the then internationally funded Star Radio. A 2002 graduate of the African Methodist Episcopal University, from where he acquired a degree in economics and later in 2011, earned a master’s degree in international relations from the University of Liberia, Willie, also served the Press Union of Liberia in many capacities, including serving as chair for several committees of the PUL, with one of such being the chair of the Union’s 2018 Awards Committee.
He was a former vice president of the Sports Writers Association of Liberia (SWAL), and ex-communication director of the Liberia Football Association (LFA) A former workmate of the deceased, journalist Lewis Konoe mourned Willie’s demise like this: “The Sports Writers Association of Liberia (SWAL) Lost a Veteran. We ran the sports monitor newspapers along with the late papa Juice. Horatio Bobby Willie, and Michael Weah now at ELBC, took me to Radio Veritas where I got practical Journalism training first as Sports Reporter and second with the help of the management of Radio Veritas under the editorial leadership of Frank Sainworla, I had the opportunity to read the main news.”
Konoe writes: “Horatio, Michael Weah and I did a lot of football commentaries at the ATS and SKD ranging from National County sports meet and the LFA National football leagues. We also did international football commentaries at those venues. He served as Vice president of the Sports writers Association of Liberia. We did a lot of run around at the ATS, SKD and the Sports Commission on Broad Street.” He recalled that at the Sports Commission under the leadership of Philipsburg Brown as President he and the deceased covered the LBF National League while at Radio Veritas. “It was Horatio, Michael Weah, and Pilate Johnson and I that ran the sports program Wednesday and Saturday at Radio Veritas.
He later departed Radio Veritas for the famous Star Radio. We had good time together in the Journalism profession. Sorry to his wife, kids and family. We will miss Horatio. The Bible assures us of the resurrection according to John 5:28,29,” Konoe mourned. Another former workmate of the deceased versatile broadcast journalist, Tom Winston Monboe writes: “I hate doing this but will do it for a former workmate and professional colleague, Horatio Bobby Willie. We called each other Something-Something! Rest in Peace Nesta!” He added, “My heart goes out to his wife Mictricia K Willie and the kids.”
Several ex-officials of government, including former presidential press secretary, Jerolinmek Matthew Piah; former Postal Affairs Assistant Minister Therry Genesis; and Liberia Broadcaster System (LBS’s) ex-Deputy Director for Rural Broadcasting, Boimah J.V. Boaimah; also joined mourners on Facebook to grieve Willie’s demise. Piah wrote: “May The Angels Lead You To Heaven My Brother. Rest In The Arms Of Sweet Deliverance Horatio Bobby Willie & Let God Be Praised. It Is Well,” while Genesis wrote: “My friend and brother Horatio B. Willie is dead! I am really broken this morning! Aye God. Pls. accept his soul in the bosom of Abraham!!!” and J.V. Boimah penned: “A very passionate, kind and compassionate big brother and a media colleague has fallen. Rest in Peace Horatio Bobby Willie.”
As expected, several media practitioners and media outlets in the country have also joined in to mourn Willie’s demise. Liberian female journalist Nawai H. Geterminah mournfully writes: “Reporting award!! Ay, big brother Horatio Bobby Willie you too? The media is hard hit oh...” Varflay Kamara, a journalist with state radio writes: “Few days ago we wished Chairman Horatio Bobby Willie speedy recovery. Our wish was not granted by God. Today, Chairman is no more. We can't ask God why. Sleep on, Chairman; sleep on,” while Emmanuel Moriero Weedee-Conway of the Heritage newspaper wrote: “REST ON BROTHER. The media landscape and Liberia in general will forever miss you for high level of professionalism and good moral.”
A veteran sports writer Siebo Williams wrote: “SPEECHLESS! This Can't Be Happening. Sleep On Bro. Horatio Bobby Nesta Willie,” while youthful and enterprising Liberian sports journalist T. Kla Wesley Jr. wrote: “A big brother has fallen! Rest In Peace Horatio Willie.” Liberian broadcaster Daniel Ankrah wrote: “Horatio Bobby Willie You too? I'm just shocked.” The online multimedia platform Vision TV-Liberia is also mourning Willie’s death, with the media group Tuesday posting on it official page a condolence message. Vision TV, in its condolence message averred that all humans were just passing through this world, indicating, “The name Horatio Bobby Willie can't never be forgotten.”
“Our hearts go out to his family most especially his Wife and children. May God comfort them. RIP until we meet brother,” Vision TV further mourned. The media group added rather mournfully: “Horatio Bobby Willie A Professional Journalist A Public Servant A Diplomat A Sports Lover Your legacy will remain an indelible mark in our profession Rest on big brother.” The Liberian sports blog Liberian Sports International, for her part, posted Tuesday: “Former LFA Communication Director Horatio Bobby Willie is dead.. Our Sympathy to the bereave family.” Augustus Fallah: “OMG, Bobby. The last time we talked was just a month when we discussed about the pending ALJA conference and the general media landscape in Liberia. Rest in peace my brother and my condolences to his wife and kids.”
Sam Howard: “My deepest condolences to the bereaved family. The media has lost one of its own again - this is a pity and a big loss.” Febinho Massaquino Bishopric Thomas: “With tears keep on pulling down my eyes I'm writing this farewell message to u my dear fraternal brother u been an inspiration n a source of motivation to us the young brothers within our noble order, bro Horatio Bobby Willie we will miss u as members of council#40 n the whole marshllan body of Liberia at large... Sleep well until we all meet on that faithful morning... May your soul n the souls of all departed brothers and sisters rest in perfect peace meh..” Ralph Jlopleh: “This life ! And you too Horatio Bobby Willie ? Rest In Peace my brother dAmit Nesta.”