Hundreds pay tribute to Grenadian father and son

Hundreds of Grenadians and other Caribbean nationals on Saturday paid their last respects in Brooklyn to a Grenadian father and son who died reportedly from carbon monoxide poisoning while renovating a home on Feb. 9 in Highland Park, Detroit, Mich.
The bodies of Winston Ventour, 68, and his son, Nigel, 41, were found inside a “stately home” on Massachusetts Street in Highland Park, according to the local television station, Fox 2 Detroit.
Mourners paid tributes to the father and son in a two-hour-long funeral service at Bedford Central Presbyterian Church on the corner of Dean Street and Nostrand Avenue in Brooklyn.
In specifically paying tribute to Nigel, some youthful members the Rastafarian Movement, who, for the most part, converged at the back of the church, intermittently interrupted the normal flow of the funeral program with shouts of “Rastafari” and other unknown “Rastafari-speak.”
Almost at funeral’s end, one member of the movement took to the microphone and led an impromptu tribute in song to Nigel, as others gathered in front of Nigel’s casket, placed, along with his father’s, before the church’s altar.
In a tribute read by Cheryl Vincent, a popular Grenadian artiste in Brooklyn, on behalf of Brooklyn Congresswoman Yvette D. Clarke, the daughter of Jamaican immigrants, Clarke said she was “deeply saddened to hear of Mr. Winston Ventour’s and Mr. Nigel Ventour’s passing,” and was “truly sorry” for the family’s loss.
“The Ventours were shining examples of a true American immigrant experience, working skilled trades in the United States, while sending all their proceeds home to support their families,” said the representative for the 9th Congressional District in Brooklyn. “There could not be a more honorable purpose.”
Yolande Y. Smith, Grenada’s Ambassador to the United States, said in a tribute, read by Jennie Marie Pascal, a representative of the Grenada Consulate in New York, said that “losing a family member is always difficult,” adding that “it came as a shock, and everyone was saddened to learn of the unfortunate circumstances surrounding the passing of father and son Winston and Nigel Ventour, two industrious sons of Grenadian soil.
“I write to express heartfelt sympathy to your family and loved ones on behalf of the Government and people of Grenada,” Smith said. “I convey these words of condolence and hope and pray that God Almighty will give you the strength to bear this great personal loss.
“May the Lord bless your family with courage to sail though this tough situation, and may you not lose the strength of mind as you come together in this Homecoming Service,” the ambassador added. “The nation joins together to lift them up to God’s light and to hold this family in prayers during a time when you need our prayers and acts of kindness and thoughtfulness.”
In his homily, the Rev. Wesley Daniel, a Grenadian United Methodist Church pastor, noted the “magnitude” of the family’s loss.
“Who will roll away the stone of uncertainty, the pain of the loss of a loved one?” he asked. “We are covered with the blood (of Jesus Christ). Our brother, Winston and Nigel, are covered with the blood.
“In the days ahead, your trauma and your ecstasy will be real,” Rev. Daniel added, turning to family members sitting in the front pews. “We’re not islands by ourselves, because we belong to each other.
“There will be days when Winston and Nigel will be missed,” he continued. “Tears are healing. That’s why God gave us tears. They (Winston and Nigel) will be missed, but know that you are not alone.”
Renowned Grenadian poet Wendell DeRiggs said Wendell’s spirits “will live on in the life of all those who loved him.
“He was a leader, a motivational host,” DeRiggs said. “He knew nothing but the best.”
After reading the Gospel of St. Marks 16:1-8, Cecil St. Louis said he knew Wendell “from the early days (in Grenada).
“We were making furniture; I just got saved and all they were talking about was the (musical) band,” he said.
In reading Winston’s obituary, Harold Pysadee, a popular Grenadian radio personality in Brooklyn, said Winston was born to parents, Francis and Irish Ventour, of Belle-Vue, St. George on Oct. 16, 1951.
Winston was pre-deceased by his parents, his sister Theresa and brother Brighton.
After completing elementary school, Pysadee said Winston became a skilled tradesman, “and mastered the art of masonry, electrical, plumbing, and carpentry up to the time of his passing on Feb. 9.”
He said Winston married Cecelyn Charles, “the love of his life, on Feb. 29, 1992, who survives him.
“Today would have been their 28th wedding anniversary,” Pysadee said. “We all loved Winston very much and will miss him dearly. Ventour touched many lives. His humor, kindness and selflessness will continue to forever inspire those of us who were lucky enough to have known him.”
Pysadee said Winston “always had a passion for music,” stating that “he will now take his rightful place in our musical history as an ace saxophone player.”
He said Winston played with the band Harmonies with Brass, from Gouyave, St. John’s, Grenada, for 35 years, “and will be greatly missed by the members of the band.”
“A special thanks to David Williams Funeral Home for caring and the professional service received,” Pysadee said. “To everyone else who played an important part in this Home Going Service, we say a hearty thank you.
“Off you go, father and so, escorted by a band of angels to our Heavenly Father while playing the sax (saxophone) before him,” he added.
Nigel, also known as Danny, was born on Oct. 11, 1978.
“He was a Gouyave man by birth and graduated from St. John’s Secondary School with three G.C.E. (British General Certificate of Education) O’ Levels and planned to further pursue his education,” said Heather Small in reading Nigel’s obituary. “Even as a youth, Danny was very health conscious and kept physically fit by playing soccer regularly. He also had the love for music as his dad.”
Small said Nigel migrated to the US in his early 20s, “where he became a dedicated and loving father to his four children and loved spending quality time them.”
She said Nigel was “a true Rastafarian,” who “stuck to a vegan diet and refused to eat meat, referring to it as ‘Deaders.’
“He was a hardworking individual, well-mannered and polite,” she said. “He was a construction worker by trade and made sure that his family was sufficiently provided for.
“We’ve learned and appreciate over the past weeks how much he was loved,” Small added. “He genuinely cared about people and made friends easily, giving advice and encouragement when needed.
“He loved making people happy,” she continued. “Nigel was an inspiration to those who have known him.”
Left to cherish Winston’s memories are, among others, his wife Sharell; children Tafari, Prince, Zion and Deon; his mother Cecelyn; and sisters Abby, Abbina and Amicah.
“To have lost Nigel is heartbreaking,” Small said. “It has come as such a shock to us all. His life was far too brief, but God knows best.”
Members of the Brooklyn-based Grenadian folklore group, Quake U.S.A. Cultural Organization, offered tribute in song to Winston and Nigel, with “Blessed Assurance,” “He Lives,” “Man is Lonely by Birth” and “How I Have Longed.”
Popular Grenadian calypsonian and vocalist Paul “Hercules” Williams also paid tribute to the deceased in signing Frank Sinatra’s “My Way,” backed up on keyboard by former Grenada New York Calypso Monarch Val Adams.
In addition, the church’s musical director, known only as Sister Tyetia, provided popular musical renditions, such as “Down by the Riverside,” while playing the keyboard.