The Legend Of Marius Stakelborough

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A report from The St Barth Weekly. Our thanks to Peter Jordens for bringing this item to our attention.

97 years in Saint Barthélemy, including 70 as owner of Le Select, the legendary bar he opened on November 11, 1949. His life served as a link between our island and its history, primarily its Swedish past. An island legend, Marius Stakelborough passed away on June 18, surrounded by his children.

Born in 1923, Marius opened Le Select in 1949, but also served as librarian, photographer, weatherman, and sailor at various times. He crisscrossed the ocean for 10 years, on ships transporting merchandise between Caribbean islands.

In 2009, he told us about his return to dry land all those years ago: “There wasn’t any electricity on the island, but I couldn’t resign myself to go to bed at 7 o’clock in the evening! So I suggested that my sailor friends stop by my house. We read books, played dominos by the light of kerosene lamps, then Coleman lamps. That’s how we started Le Select, between friends.” Once it moved to a new location, it quickly became an island institution, attracting locals as well as travelers passing through and well-heeled tourists, but it never lost its comforting simplicity in spite of the luxury side of Saint Barthélemy.

Birthday parties for Marius and anniversaries of Le Select took place every year, often attracting many friends from around the globe.

The patriarch of a large family, Marius was also the craftsman of renewing the bonds that still exist between his island and Sweden, and he was keenly interested in the history of Saint Barth, especially the Swedish era during which his two grandmothers were born. The King of Sweden, who Marius met on several occasions, awarded him the medal of the Royal Order of the Polar Star. As a young man, this son of a policeman, had the first camera on the island, and remained its only photographer for several decades. He also created the first postcards for Saint Barthélemy, some of which have been carefully saved to this day. He filled his little private museum with various objects, press clippings, posters, documents, record albums, photos, and other items that recall the past of Saint Barthélemy. The museum was open to the public on the anniversary of Le Select, every year in November.

A descendant of slaves, Marius became an authentic ambassador of Saint Barthélemy and the poet of his remarkable personal history. Adored by Swedes, as well as many of the Americans who visit the island, his charming personality and winning smile have been seen in several documentary films, notably “The Friends Of Marius,” in 2009.

The 60th anniversary of the bar was celebrated in a big way with a free Jimmy Buffett concert, but as Marius Stakelborough once told us, “Time passes too quickly. I drank my rum, I had my share of happiness, but one thing is sure, I worked really hard for that….

Le Select has welcomed people from five continents, of all races and all circumstances, and always with the same grace and the same respect. Le Select is my pride and joy.”

See also:

Ils racontent leur Marius
Le Journal de Saint-Barth, June 24, 2020

The Legend of Marius Stakelborough
Saint Barth Weekly, Nr. 430, June 26, 2020, pp. 8, 10-15

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