The New York community on Saturday paid its last respects to former St. Vincent and the Grenadines’ United Nations Ambassador Dennie Wilson, who died on Good Friday, April 7, 2023, at 67, his wife Idica Wilson said.
Mrs. Wilson said her husband, also a former senator and speaker of the House of Assembly in St. Vincent and the Grenadines, died of cardiac arrest.
Among dignitaries, educators and community members giving restricted tributes — at the two-hour-long funeral service, at The Cathedral of the Incarnation in Garden City, Long Island – were St. Vincent and the Grenadines’ Consul General to the United States, Rondy “Luta” McIntosh; former St. Vincent and the Grenadines’ Ambassador to the United Nations, Organization of American States and United States, Kingsley Layne; and Stephen John, president of the St. Vincent and the Grenadines Progressive Organization of New York (SPOONY), the New York arm of the main opposition New Democratic Party (NDP) in St. Vincent and the Grenadines, of which Wilson was the executive secretary.
McIntosh said that the Consulate General of St. Vincent and the Grenadines, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Foreign Trade, the Permanent Mission to the United Nations, the Embassy of St. Vincent and the Grenadines in Washington and the Government of St. Vincent and the Grenadines extended their “sincerest condolences to the family, friends and loved ones of our dearly departed brother, former Ambassador, Mr. Dennie Wilson.”
He noted that Wilson served as Deputy Permanent Representative to the UN, then Permanent Representative from January 1995 to April 2001, “having overall responsibility for diplomatic, consular and United Nations matters.”
“We are truly grateful for his years of service to our country and would like to thank his family for loaning him to us,” consul general said. “Today, I want us to ask ourselves one question, what would be said about us, when we depart this physical human realm? Is it that, we did well for ourselves and our families? If that’s all that would be said about us, then we would have failed humanity.
“As President George W.H. Bush said: ‘”There could be no definition of a successful life that does not include service to others’ and in the words of Mahatma Gandhi, ‘The best way to find yourself is to lose yourself in the service of others’” he added. “Mr. Dennie Wilson served our country in high offices, in various capacities; and, for that, we are grateful.
“May his soul rest in eternal peace and may God grant strength and comfort to his family, friends and all who mourn during this most difficult time,” McIntosh continued.
Layne said Wilson was “driven by service to his community at many stages of his life.”
“Dennie has left us, but he has left many memories and touched the lives of many people in many ways,” he said. “His contribution to our country is many-faceted.
“May he rest in eternal peace and may the angels lead him into paradise,” Layne added.
John disclosed that SPOONY’s late founding member the Rev. Alwyn Craigg, had invited Wilson, his friend to join the group after it was founded in 2002.
“From the acceptance of that invitation to last Good Friday, former ambassador served in various capacities in SPOONY, including being general secretary, at the time of his passing,” he said. “Amb. Wilson’s contributions to SPOONY were not confined to his position as general secretary. He was a caring man, whose spirit of love and kindness was much larger than his frame.
“He gave freely and generously to many causes in support of his homeland,” John added. “His acts of charity often involved the combination of efforts that included contributions from his loving wife and daughters. He found great pleasure to share with us, delicious platters of bread and cakes made by his wife.
“Former ambassador was an excellent orator,” he continued. “His diction, style and command of the English language made him a popular speaker at our events. We enjoyed just listening to him. At our meetings and gatherings, his was the voice of calm and civility. His analyses were clear and concise. His political dictums were succinct and condense but to the point, tinged with ‘You know what I mean?’ Yes, ambassador, we do.
“I cannot express to you enough in one sitting how much we would miss him,” the SPOONY president said. “We would not even attempt to replace him. We would accept God’s plan and be evermore so thankful that he was able to spend some time with us. We pray that his family and love ones will be comforted knowing that our brother has touched so many, and we hope that God will continue to spread his grace and mercy upon them.”
Anthony Watson, executive director State University of New York (SUNY) Manhattan Educational Opportunity Center, said he had known Wilson for almost 18 years, beginning at Abyssinian Development Corporation, a nonprofit agency in Harlem.
“Then Dennie Wilson came along and was this man of prestige but, more importantly, he was someone who had a heart of gold,” Watson said. “Although he had traveled around the world and interfaced with many leaders, there was something about his desire to provide others with some of the opportunities he was given in life.
“He changed so many young people’s lives through his level of teaching excellence and helping students get their GED (General Equivalency Diploma),” he added. “Dennie would always look for an opportunity to advance the education for those in our city. He was not only a colleague of mine but my confidante and a true mentor. I have grown so much, not only as a leader but as a man, and this is due, in part, to Dennie’s presence and guidance throughout the years. God puts people in our lives for a reason, and I will forever cherish our friendship.
“He lived as a person of integrity, a person who cared about others, a person with vision for others, someone who cared about the people in his many communities and sometimes gave more of himself than others gave to him,” Watson continued. “He would not want us to mourn him but talk about all the great impact he has made in this world. I am truly going to miss him; even though we didn’t speak every day, we knew that each other would be available if needed.”
“As a person of faith, we know that Dennie believes in the resurrection,” said the Rev. Sheldon Hamblin, the Barbadian-born rector of St. Paul’s Episcopal Church in the Village of Flatbush, Brooklyn, who officiated at the funeral service.
“With Jesus as his rock, he lived a life of service,” he added. “And we hope we continue his legacy. As a diplomat, he represented his country with honor and distinction. He was a man of integrity, kindness.
“May we find comfort and strength, may his life for humanity inspire us all, may perpetual light shine upon him, may he rest in peace,” Fr. Hamblin continued.
The Wilsons, who live in Queens, NY, hailed from Union Island in the southern St. Vincent Grenadines.
Wilson was Deputy Ambassador, then Ambassador, to the UN, from 1995-2001, under the New Democratic Party (NDP) administration of the late Prime Minister Sir James F. Mitchell.
He was Speaker of the House of Assembly in St. Vincent and the Grenadines, under the Labor Party administration of late Prime Minister Robert Milton Cato, from Aug. 17, 1982 to April 12, 1984.
During his tenure in the House, Wilson also served as a representative of the Commonwealth Parliamentary Association.
Additionally, Wilson was an administrator with New York City’s Department of Education (NYCDOE), and was founder and chief executive officer of the Rockaway (Queens, New York) Community Stem Charter School (RCSCC).
Wilson – who possessed extensive background in public policy, diplomacy and real estate management, and served on the board of trustees of Spartan Medical College in St. Lucia — had two Master’s degrees — a Master of Science in Education (Queen’s College, CUNY) and a Master of Science in Administration and Leadership (College of St. Rose at Albany, New York).
He also held certificates in School Building Leadership and School District Leadership, and an advanced Certificate in Education. He earned his Bachelor’s degree in political science from Fordham University in New York.
He was also a customs/revenue officer in St. Vincent and the Grenadines, in the mid-1970s, from where he launched into politics.
In addition, Wilson was a school teacher in Union Island and Bequia, the most northern of the St. Vincent Grenadine islands, in the early 1970s.
Wilson is survived by wife Idica and their two daughters, Denica and Tedra; grandson Niklas; sister Carol; brother Rodney; son-in-law Dale; and many other relatives and friends.
Another service will take place at St. George’s Cathedral in Kingstown, the Vincentian capital, on a date to be announced, Idica Wilson said. Interment will take place in Union Island.