Guyanese show last respects to Maurice Agrippa

The Agrippa Family in front pew.
The Agrippa Family in front pew.
Photo by Nelson A. King

Hundreds of Guyanese nationals on Oct. 5 paid their last respects to their compatriot Maurice Agrippa, who died on Sept. 21 after “many battles with his illness,” according to the obituary. He was 52.

The large Restoration Temple Assembly of God (AOG), on Church Avenue in East Flatbush, Brooklyn, was almost filled to capacity during the Service of Remembrance for Agrippa, who first lived in East Flatbush, when he migrated from Georgetown, the Guyanese capital, in 1989.

Agrippa and his family then moved to Laurelton, Queens, where he spent most of his adult life and where he took ill.

During the two-hour-odd Remembrance Service, friends, relatives and church officials remembered Agrippa as a very caring and loving person.

Michael Dundas, Jr. plays "Great is Thy Faithfulness" on the saxophone.
Michael Dundas, Jr. plays “Great is Thy Faithfulness” on the saxophone. Photo by Nelson A. King

“Maurice is (was) a member of our church,” said the Rev. Cecil Moonsam, who served as liturgist. “We thank God for them (Agrippa family), and we glorify the Lord.
“We have a number of his school friends here,” he added. “He’s going to be missed.”

In seemingly holding back tears, Sean Clouden said he knew Agrippa since 1977, and that, in 1996, when Clouden migrated to New York, he didn’t know how he was “going to navigate” the city without Agrippa’s assistance.
“I promised that I wasn’t going to cry,” said Clouden before adding that Agrippa was “a mentor.”

Dominique London sings "You'll Never Walk Alone."
Dominique London sings “You’ll Never Walk Alone.” Photo by Nelson A. King

“Maurice was there,” he continued. “As a single person, I knew where to get food – when I needed cook-up rice (one of Afro-Guyanese favorite dishes) every Friday.
“He was a very loving person,” Clouden said. “He was always there for you when you needed him. He was a good friend. To his family, I do appreciate you guys taking care of him.”

Dale McDonald said he and Agrippa went the same day for a job interview, and that co-workers nicknamed him “Grapes” during the night shift.
“Everything you do was family,” he said, referring to Agrippa. “Nothing he said without (using the word) family.
“Maurice doesn’t (didn’t) want anybody to do anything for him,” McDonald added. “We had a similar sort of aim. Maurice enjoyed everybody; everybody enjoyed him.”

Shaun Cummings plays keyboard during congregational hymn "It is Well with My Soul."
Shaun Cummings plays keyboard during congregational hymn “It is Well with My Soul.” Photo by Nelson A. King

Adesafi Green said Agrippa was “more than stylist, more than kind.”
“Maurice was thoughtful and faithful; he knew God,” said Green disclosing that he was incarcerated for 15 years.
“We laughed,” he added. “He always say (said): ‘Keep your head up.
“Maurice was one of a kind,” Green continued. “God sent our brother Maurice to us. He sent Maurice to me. He was happy, nice.
“I was happy to know Maurice,” he said. “May God be our comforter. Maurice, rest in peace. We all love you. God bless.”

Thomas David, who met Agrippa in Guyana, said Agrippa’s death was “hard” for him, stating that he had “just came from burying my brother.”
“Maurice was the ‘King of the Basketball Court’”, David said. “We grew up playing basketball. We were always intertwined with each other.
“Maurice was a loving person; he cared for everybody,” he added. “He loved his family. I loved him to death – my brother. We talked everything. I’m going to miss him.”

Another friend, Eze Small, 47, said he was not hoping to pay tribute to Agrippa “soon”, who he called “Mo”.
“He was like a big brother,” he said. “He taught me how to tie (a tie). ‘Mo’ introduced me to Polo (name brand). He always represented us with sincerity.
“I spent some time at their home at Christmas, with pepper pot (eating another Guyanese favorite dish, especially at Christmas time),” Small continued. “He loved his sons; he loved his wife. He was a good man. He was very sincere in his belief in Christ.”

Joshua Agrippa reads the obituary.
Joshua Agrippa reads the obituary.Photo by Nelson A. King

In reading the obituary, Joshua Agrippa, Agrippa’s elder son — the other is Jeremiah — said his father was born on April 26, 1970 in Georgetown to the late Maurice Rupert Andrew Agrippa, and Lucienne Agrippa.
Maurice Patrick Abiose Agrippa grew up in Pike Street Kitty, and attended St. Gabriel’s Primary and St. Stanislaus High School – all in Georgetown.

In migrating to the United States, Joshua said his dad continued his education at Medgar Evers College in Brooklyn and St. John’s University College of Insurance in Queens.
He said Agrippa worked at several firms, including Matthew Bender; AIG; XL Global Risk Management; Arch Insurance Group; The Trayner Group, Ltd.; Nassau University Medical Center (NUMC); and Nicky’s Little Sprouts D. C., Inc. (math tutor), in Laurelton, owned and directed by Agrippa’s wife, Shaundell.

During his many years in the insurance industry, Joshua said his father performed several leadership roles, and specialized in commercial insurance, with focus on construction risk management and brokerage.
He said his dad was “an avid sports fan,” and enjoyed playing basketball, soccer, football, table tennis, cricket and cycling.

“He was a loving, caring and dedicated husband, father, brother and friend, who was loved by all,” Joshua said. “Despite his many battles with his illness, he still persevered and kept the faith.”
He then read some of his dad’s favorite phrases: “Everything is everything. I am G”; “We are family. I got you, Geetal”; “I got this. You take care now”; “It’s all love. Bless, Bless”; and “I’m the Godfather.”

Dr. Marcia DeSouza pays tribute to her brother.
Dr. Marcia DeSouza pays tribute to her brother.

Dr. Marcia DeSouza, Agrippa’s eldest sister, said Agrippa would “defend us when others spoke negatively against us.
“As his health deteriorated, it posed serious challenges,” she said, stating that one of her brother’s “infectious” qualities was his “great sense of humor.”
“Maurice will be missed greatly,” Dr. DeSouza added.

Agrippa’s nephews, Samuel and Daniel DeSouza, also paid tribute to their uncle in poem and spoken word, respectively; Michael Dundas, Jr., played “Great is Thy Faithfulness” on saxophone; Dominique London sang “You’ll Never Walk Alone”; and the church’s Praise Worship Team led mourners with “It is Well with My Soul”.

The Rev. Richard Thomas brings the message.
The Rev. Richard Thomas brings the message. Photo by Nelson A. King

In his message, the Rev. Richard Thomas, one of the ministers at the church, preached that everything said during the Remembrance Service was “a message to you and I (me), who are still on this side of eternity.
“As we listened to every thing said about Maurice, he made a very powerful impact – his nephews, his children (his sons),” Rev. Thomas said. “His wife would know him differently from how we knew him.”

Agrippa is survived by his wife, Shaundell; sons, Joshua and Jeremiah; mother, Lucienne Agrippa; siblings, Marcia, Merle (Adeola) and Gillian; nephews, Samuel, Daniel, Joseph, Matthew, Elijah, Melvin, Jaheim and Sean; nieces, Britney and Sasha; mother-in-law, Paulette Hyman; brother-in-law, Kenrick; sister-in-law, Sonia; and several other relatives and friends.
His body was interred the next day at Rosemount Memorial Park Cemetery, 1109 Neck Lane, Elizabeth, NJ.

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