Community pays last respects to chef of late SVG PM Sir James F. Mitchell 

Family members of the late Alleyne DeRoche at the front pew.
Photo by Nelson A. King

The Vincentian and Caribbean communities on Saturday paid their last respects to Alleyne DeRoche, a former chef for the late Prime Minister of St. Vincent and the Grenadines, Sir James F. Michell, who died at her Brooklyn home on Feb. 10. She was 70.

 Hundreds filled the Trinity Apostolic Faith Church on Pacific Avenue in Brooklyn during the three-hour-long funeral service.

They sang lustily many popular hymns and songs, including “It is Well with My Soul,” “When Peace Like a River,” “Will Your Anchor Hold” and “In the Arms of Sweet Deliverance,” paid glowing tributes in speeches; and listened to scriptures, prayers, the eulogy and sermon.

Jacintha Bailey – DeRoche’s cousin, who, like DeRoche, hailed from Canouan in the southern St. Vincent Grenadines – described DeRoche as “a kind and jovial person,” adding that she “loved to cook.”

“During her illness, when the phone calls became less, we started texting each other,” she said. “I take comfort that she read my text the day before she passed not knowing that she was too weak to respond. I will miss our conversations.”

One of DeRoche’s former employers, identified only as Annette, said: “Over 15 wonderful years, Alleyne was good to our girls.

“I miss Alleyne,” she said. “I miss the way she said, “Good Morning’. I will miss her macaroni pie (laughter). We love you, and we’ll miss you, and thanks for everything.”

Rev. Ronald Bailey, a Vincentian pastor in Brooklyn, said DeRoche “became a friend of our family,” adding: “She was the chef for the late Prime Minister James Mitchell. She used to cook for him.”

Another mourner, identified only as Gwenneth, said she met DeRoche at the same building, where they worked, confirming that DeRoche’s macaroni pie was “out of this world.”

“We formed a friendship, a bond,” she said. “I’m going to miss her. She loved her kids.”

“She was the epitome of love,” said a mourner, who did not identify herself. “She loved to worship and praise. Her smile was so infectious.

“The Lord giveth, and the Lord taketh,” she added. “I will always have a black cake at Christmas.”

After popular Vincentian soloist Erlene Williams-King sang “His Eye is on the Sparrow,” the Rev. Cecil Durrant, senior pastor of Bethany Deliverance Church of God, where DeRoche was a member, said he knew DeRoche “for years” in St. Vincent and the Grenadines.

Bethany Deliverance Church of God Choir pays tribute in song.
Bethany Deliverance Church of God Choir pays tribute in song. Photo by Nelson A. King

“Alleyne saw me as a visionary,” he said. “The day she was going to die, Alleyne called my phone, and she was just groaning and groaning. I love you, I love you, I love you.”

After reading 1 Cor. 15-50-58, Patricia Richards, DeRoche’s niece, said: “It takes a lot of energy to read the scripture. I will miss my Aunty Alleyne (crying).”

In his Message of Comfort, Elder Shawn McKie of Bethany Deliverance Church of God, said: “We understand today that grieving is natural when we lost someone.

“There’s nothing that you and I have not gone through that Jesus has not gone through,” he preached. “The people have a reason to hope today. So, we have hope today that our Lord Jesus will show up.

“Our hope today is built on nothing else but Jesus and righteousness,” he added. “We have a hope that Jesus will come again.

“Our Sis. Alleyne is resting in the arms of God,” Elder McKie continued. “While she’s absent from the body, she’s present in the Lord.”

Pastor Edwert Jeffers, of Bethany Deliverance Church of God, said DeRoche “prayed for families, her family, every family; and, every time, she prayed for St. Vincent and the Grenadines.

“She said, ‘Let us continue to pray for our nation’”, he said. “She was a selfless person. My sister, I can say she knows the Lord.”

In his prayer for the family, Pastor Derwin Grant, of Trinity Methodist Church on Eastern Parkway, near Utica Avenue, in Brooklyn, noted that DeRoche’s “ambassadorial assignment has come to an end.

“I pray now God that you will give them the grace that they will need,” he prayed. “In the midst of tears, the joy of the Lord will come. The joy will give us the strength to carry on.

“Give the joy to each family member, give the joy to the Diaspora, the joy for the people of St. Vincent and the Grenadines.”

Alleyne DeRoche's friend Cyril "Scorcher" Thomas, former deputy SVG consul general in New York, in front pew.
Alleyne DeRoche’s friend Cyril “Scorcher” Thomas, former deputy SVG consul general in New York, in front pew. Photo by Nelson A. King

Laverne McDowald-Thompson – a former long-standing president, now vice president, of the Brooklyn-based Council of St. Vincent and the Grenadines Organizations, U.S.A. Inc. (COSAGO), the umbrella Vincentian organization in the US and a member of Bethany Deliverance Church of God – said DeRoche was “a wonderful soul.”

“She supported everything Vincentian; she was right there,” she said, acknowledging and thanking, among other mourners, Crispin Friday, her successor at COSAGO; DeRoche’s former employers; and Pastor Cornelius Olive, pastor and founder of Trinity Apostolic Faith Church.

In her eulogy, Diana John, DeRoche’s daughter, who resides in Ireland, said her mother was born on Aug. 5, 1953 “on the beautiful island of Canouan” and was “the first daughter of Rosaline DeRoche and a sister and mother to her nine siblings.

“From an early age, family was a core part of who she was,” she said. “So soon after having her first daughter, Kathy-Ann, she moved to (mainland) St. Vincent. Her ambition drove her to make a better life for her growing family.

“There, she found her niche in the small community of Redemption Sharpes (in Kingstown, the capital), her second home,” Diana said. “I was born not long after and my brother Mc Steven, eight years later.

“Her friendly, compassionate and nurturing demeanor was one of the reasons so many people gravitated to her,” she added. “I can give several examples of her generosity, but I’ll share this one: When the Church of God Worldwide Mission was established, my mom allowed them to run a line from her home to the church, so the church could get electricity.

“Her open-door policy allowed many to be fed and counseled – no one was ever turned away,” Diana continued. “Whether it was electricity, a slice of sweet bread, a glass of juice or simply a place to hang out, my mother was a port of call and safe haven.”

She said though her family and community were her life, she never lost her ambition.

“She got a job working for the late Prime Minister, the Hon. James Mitchell, and later migrated to the United States,” said Diana before breaking down in tears, as her sister, Amanda John-Cash continued in reading the eulogy.

It says that moving to another country did not change DeRoche, but made her “appreciate where she came from.

“So, she did what she’s always done, found a community,” it says. “If there was a Vincentian event, she went to support – bus rides, bingo, or Vincy Day, to name a few.

Daughter Kathy-Ann John-Burge reads Eccles. 3: 1-8.
Daughter Kathy-Ann John-Burge reads Eccles. 3: 1-8. Photo by Nelson A. King

“Being around her countrymen elevated her patriotic spirit, while allowing her to do another thing she enjoyed, dress up,” Diana said. “My mother was a fashionista. Though I’d love to say she went to these events solely for the laughs and comradery, I know she also went to show her natural taste for fashion.

“Whether it was through her fashion or her nurturing spirit, Alleyne left an impact on those she came into contact with,” she added. “She always had a smile and positive word to share. If it wasn’t already obvious from everything I’ve said so far, my mother always showed up.

She showed up for the birth of her grandchildren Teagan and Caoilainn Cash, who are in Ireland, and Alexander Burge, who is in St. Vincent.

“She showed up for the many families she’s cared for throughout the years, some of whom are present today – the Sporns (Ray Ray and Mia) and the Tarica’s (Molly and Emma),” Diana continued. “She loved you all dearly. She’s showed up for the church, her community, anyone who needed support she was there. My siblings and I are who we are today because of who our mother was.”

In addition, Diana said her mother loved watching the moon, stating that it “became her constant.

“It was the thing that connected her to all the places she lived and visited,” she said. “So, it seems like cosmic alignment that we are celebrating her life on the day that the moon reaches its peak.”

Diana said she and her siblings were “so grateful to have had you as a mother and will strive to do everything we can to continue your legacy.

“We love and miss you dearly,” she said, sharing an Irish poem, which says in part: “You can only have one mother, patient kind and true/No other friend in all the world, Will be the same to you/When other friends forsake you, To mother you will return/For all her loving kindness, She asks nothing in return.”