The death has occurred of Benjamin M. Darpoh, stipendiary Magistrate of Gardnersville, Montserrado County. Mr. Darpoh died on Monday, November 13 at the S.O.S hospital in Congo Town after a protracted period of illness. He was in his 70th year.
Mr. Darpoh was the last chairman of the Public Utilities Authority (PUA) before its dissolution in 1975. The PUA was a behemoth (large and powerful) state owned enterprise that comprised the Liberia Electricity Corporation (LEC); the Liberia Water & Sewer Corporation (LWSC); the Liberia Telecommunication Corporation (LTC); and the Liberia Broadcasting Corporation (ELBC).
He also represented the government of the Philippines as its Consul General in Liberia.
Affable, enterprising and driven, Ben Darpoh had a very successful career in the public and private sectors of Liberia. The positions of trust he held were General Manager of the erstwhile Liberia Iron and Steel Corporation, Deputy Chair of PUA under the chairmanship of Mr. Taylor E. Major and Deputy Commissioner of the then Bureau of Maritime Affairs, now the Liberia Maritime Authority.
He was a product of Kart State University in Ohio, USA where he earned the Bachelor of Telecommunications Technology in 1973 and the Louise Arthur Grimes School of Law, University of Liberia where he took the Bachelor of Law in 2009. He attended St. Patrick’s High in Monrovia.
Among his classmates of St. Patrick’s elementary in the 1950s were Elias Saleeby, James E. Pierre, the late Augustine Johnson (Tambakai Jangagba), the late Waldron Greaves, T. Mark Johnson (the Oachie Coochie man of ELBC), Dewitt S. T. Roberts, brother of Dr. Togba Nah Tipoteh (formerly Rudolph Lorenzo Roberts), David Dennis, Arthur Dennis, the late Joe Gibeon of LEC and John Alexander Smith.
In the mid 1970s in partnership with the late Michael K. Doe, the B and M Driving School in Monrovia was established, the first of its kind in the country. Ben also organized the first drivers’ workshop held at the Monrovia City Hall in a bid to upgrade the skills of the automobile drivers in the country in conjunction with the Liberia National Police.
The Darpoh family led by their late father, Mr. Jonas K. Darpoh, was notable in the Bakery business. Older Monrovians can remember “Darpoh Bread” on Camp Johnson Road. Ben Darpoh was also proprietor of the popular pastry shop in Logan Town, which made delectable pizzas from the mid 1990s until the start of the final round of hostilities in the civil war, which ended in 2003. In addition, he opened the Darpoh International School in Logan Town and was expanding it to include vocational and technical training before his demise.
To mourn his loss are three siblings, Godfred Tetteh, Grace and Victoria; his widow McCleod Turkett Darpoh and son Benjamin Darpoh, Jr., three children born from other courtships and a host of other relatives and friends, and his eldest brother, the eminent and fearless journalist Rufus M. Darpoh, who predeceased him in 1994 resulting from effects of torture he endured at the infamous Bella Yella prison in the late 1980s due to his news reports which the military government felt were not in its favor.
Funeral arrangements and date will be announced later.