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Learning about Our Ancestors Segment, Part 4 – Governor Ralph M. Paiewonsky

Learning about Our Ancestors Segment, Part 4 – Governor Ralph M. Paiewonsky

Ralph Moses Paiewonsky (Nov. 9, 1907, St Thomas, Danish West Indies – Nov. 9, 1991, St. Thomas, US Virgin Islands) was a businessman and politician who served as the 9th civilian governor of the US Virgin Islands from 1961-1969.

The son of Jewish Lithuanian immigrants to the Danish West Indies, Ralph Paiewonsky graduated from New York University in 1930nwith a degree in chemistry. His father owned A.H. Riise & Co. Ltd., an apothecary, general store, and a bay rum distillery in St. Thomas. After he returned to the Virgin Islands, his father bought the government-owned beverage rum distillery on St. Croix.

After Ralph found out that the shortage of water limited expansion, he proceeded to develop yeast strains which could ferment a mixture of molasses and seawater. After expansion, he sold the distillery and turned to converting the general store to a gift boutique. He managed various family businesses and was a founder of the West Indies Bank and Trust Company in 1954. In 1961, he was

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