Scores of mourners celebrated the life, and bid farewell to Maurice “Mo” Braithwaite, a fascinating, brilliant, and humbled soul who departed this earth on July 20. Braithwaite died at age 72, after a valiant fight with cancer.
No tears were shed, instead, melodies from the saxophone, the violin, the African drum, the keyboard, and a liturgical dance, filled the room of the Arlington Funeral Home, in Queens, on July 22 to salute the extraordinary life Mo lived. His love of the arts, his charity work, and his indelible commitment to the youth, will forever be etched in the minds, of those who crossed his path.
Diane Haussermann, a former student of the debate and speech program at St. Frances Preparatory School in Queens, said that she benefited tremendously from Mo’s coaching skill for four years, and returned to teach there because of his motivation.
“My fondest memories are the things he taught me. He was a great storyteller, he loved life, and he treated everyone with respect,” noted, Diane who, along with several current and former students crammed into the funereal home to say goodbye to the dedicated teacher who, after 26 years, continued to travel four days a week, to richly impact the life of the students, despite his illness.
Maurice was remembered as a sharp dresser with great character, and someone who was very artistic in the community. “We have great affection for Mo, a leader who never pushed himself forward, yet when someone looked for guidance he was there to give it,” said his brother-in-law, Trevor Phillips.
“He was a writer and a director that encouraged and enabled others to showcase their potential,” added Phillips.
Maurice, who was married to his wife, Rosemarie for more than 35 years, was born in Georgetown to parents Wilfred and Alama, when opportunities were readily available to youngsters, all of which he took full advantage.
He travelled Guyana extensively and educated himself in electrical engineering and carpentry. Mo excelled in the theatre becoming one of the most recognizable voices on the airwaves in the radio serial – “Tides of Susanburg,” and commanded standing ovations on stage at Theatre Guild.
By the time Mo arrived in the United States in 1970, he was already a master thespian. He became the drama instructor of the Parsons Beacon Child Center of New York, a mentor with the Harlem YMCA, and most recent, the assistant cultural director of the Guyana Cultural Association, where he designed and built sets for the group’s yearly performance arts stage. He also coached youngsters in the Cultural Heritage Summer Camp.
Mo earned a degree in Electrometrical Engineering from City College of New York, and later retired from Xerox after 30 years of service. He went on to serve as budget director and executive secretary of Community Board #8 in Queens.
Maurice received numerous accolades, including one from the Guyana Cultural Association, and a Civic Award from Queens Borough President, Helen Marshall.
Maurice “Mo” Braithwaite, leaves to mourn, his wife Rosemarie, brothers, Ronald, Dennis, and Richard, sister, Lynette, sons Marcel and Rory, his daughters-in-law Karen and Alisa, and grandchildren Georgia, Hunter, Aurora and Tiberius.