Dr Roughan died yesterday after he collapsed while attending the annual general meeting of Development Exchange Service (DSE) in Honiara.
Originally from New York, United States of America, Dr Roughan arrived in the Solomon Islands in October 1956 as a Marist priest.
He fell in love with the country, got married to a Solomon Islander from Are’Are, Malaita, and decided to call Solomon Islands home.
His early years were spent in the village. He lived, ate, and slept with village people.
Dr Roughan understands village life more than many indigenous Solomon Islanders. This is because he lived and experienced that life.
In later years when he moved to capital Honiara, his heart remained with the country’s rural mass.
This is one reason he decided to stay here.
He wanted to help Solomons’ rural people improve their livelihoods.
He wanted to protect the resources of rural people from large-scale destructive commercial activities that benefit only the rich and powerful.
He wanted rural people to take ownership of their natural resources and decided what’s best for them.
It was on these premises that he founded Solomon Islands Development Trust (SIDT), the country’s biggest and leading non-government organisation.
SIDT has been in operation for the last 30 years and is still serving its purpose and mandate – working with rural communities to improve their quality of life.
In his dealings with hundreds of rural communities around the country, Dr Roughan was always honest and true to his intentions.
He never exploited rural people or their resources for his own ends.
In fact, he advocated here and far for rural people to be at the centre of every development the government wants to undertake.
Any development that excludes rural people, he once said, is not development.
Despite the many opportunities he has to live an affluent life out there, Dr Roughan never take those up.
In fact he never aspires to become a wealthy person.
He instead chose to become just an ordinary Solomon Islander, living simply, expecting little, but giving much.
He loved Solomon Islands to the core.
Dr Roughan touched the many lives he crossed their paths.
The outpouring of grief and tributes by those who knew him speak volume of the life of this great leader, visionary, and icon.
We at the Solomon Star have a very close association with Dr Roughan through his weekly column in the paper.
Our hearts go to son Paul and family at this time.
We however, take console in the great work and legacy he has left behind. Dr Roughan’s life story offers a great lesson for Solomon Islanders to learn and emulate.
May his soul rest in peace!