Kenton Kirby, the Vincentian-born Editor Emeritus of Caribbean Life, the Brooklyn-based largest Caribbean-themed newspaper in the United States, died on Tuesday, Sept. 6 at a nursing rehabilitation center in Brooklyn. He was 76.
Kamla Millwood, Kirby’s daughter, said her dad died on Tuesday morning at NYC Health + Hospitals/McKinney on Albany Avenue in Brooklyn, where he was a resident for some time.
While Kirby’s cause of death is not immediately known, Millwood told Caribbean Life that her dad was “suffering for a long time” after sustaining injury during a “headstand” about 10 years ago.
“So, he had a sports injury and, later on, he began to decline,” said Millwood, a Brooklyn-based author, speech writer, business consultant and life coach. “They found him unresponsive.
“I’ve been preparing myself for this,” added Millwood, who, on July 13, had dedicated her Caribbean Life Impact Award to her dad. “Many people in the Caribbean looked at him as a king.
“He always gave somebody a start,” Millwood continued. “With me being a public figure, the politicians see in me what they see (saw) in my father. When I go to certain places, people know me because of my dad.
“I learned from my father because of so many things he taught me,” she said. “We sat together and watched ‘Reporter’s Round Table’. He was such a gentleman. I have the spunk and love from mommy (Pamela Kirby, née Mandeville), but the journalistic expertise, drive from him.”
Kenton Kirby was born on Sept. 15, 1945 in the Central Leeward town of Barrouallie in St. Vincent and the Grenadines.
He was a police officer in the local constabulary, where he excelled in playing the trumpet in the police band and other prominent musical bands in St. Vincent and the Grenadines.
On leaving the Royal St. Vincent and the Grenadines Police Force, he became a reporter for the local Vincentian newspaper, elevating himself to becoming chief reporter.
He also corresponded for the Barbados-based Caribbean News Agency (CANA), renamed Caribbean Media Corporation (CMC); the United Press International (UPI); Radio Barbados; and Radio Antilles, the defunct, Montserrat-based radio station that was considered the most powerful in the Eastern Caribbean.
On Sept. 4 his sister, Julia Kirby indicated that he was not as active as before and on his passing said, “no more suffering.”
On June 21, 2013, during the 47th Independence Anniversary Celebration of Guyana, at Brooklyn Borough Hall, Patricia Jordan Langford, president of the Guyana Tri-State Alliance, presented Kirby with a “Special Independence Award” for his “exceptional contribution in the field of journalism,” according to Tangerine Clarke, a Guyanese-born reporter for Caribbean Life.
Clarke said Kirby’s work was “duly noted in the pages of the Caribbean Life, where he has (had) served for more than 20 years” (including being editor).
She said Kirby was also a public information specialist, who earned his Bachelor’s degree in mass communications from the University of the West Indies and Master’s degree in journalism from the International Institute for Journalism in Berlin, Germany.
“He is (was) hailed as one of the most generous professionals in the business,” Clarke said.
On hearing about Kirby’s death, Bert Wilkinson, a veteran Guyanese journalist, who also writes for Caribbean Life from Georgetown, the Guyanese capital, said Kirby had urged him, 15 years ago, to join a team of freelance writers at the paper.
“He was adamant that I should,” Wilkinson said. “We did a quick trial the very next week, and there has been no turning back ever since.
“Other more prominent publications have come and gone, and Life (Caribbean Life) has grown under Kenton’s leadership initially and more recently under the reliable leadership of current Editor Kevin Williams (Grenadian-born),” he added, thanking Kirby for encouraging him to join Caribbean Life.
Wilkinson said the publication has given him and other contributors “great scope to write extensively on an array of issues.”
“May his soul rest in peace!” he said.
Millwood said her father “had a beautiful life, a beautiful family,” and that she “loved him very much.”
“I’m so proud of him” she said. “I would not be who I am today without him. I will always honor his name – to be the best person I can be.
“A lot of people told me he mentored them,” Millwood continued. “I appreciate all you did for him. I am going to continue his torch and live the life he wanted me to (live).”
She said funeral arrangements are yet to be finalized.