An only child’s tribute to beloved Vincy radio icon, Ferrand ‘Randy D’ Dopwell

Randy D with his only child, Dr. Fadiyla “Fae” Dopwell Louis-Obike, on her wedding day, Dec. 31, 2011.
Kingsley Roberts

As St. Vincent and the Grenadines, the Caribbean and the Caribbean Diaspora were on Tuesday fixated on the Home Going Service of Thanksgiving for popular and veteran Vincentian radio and air personality Ferrand “Randy D” Dopwell, with superfluous tributes, one person’s tribute and presence were patently missing – Randy D’s beloved only child, Fadiyla “Fae” Dopwell Louis-Obike.

Dr. Dopwell Louis-Obike, 38, a pediatrician, who resides in Plano, north Texas, with her husband, Michael, and their two sons, were unable to attend the funeral at St. George’s Cathedral in Kingstown, the Vincentian capital, or pay live tribute via the internet. The entire viewing of the body, tributes, service and interment were streamed live.

However, in her tribute, which was prepared for live broadcast and made available to Caribbean Life, Dr. Dopwell Louis-Obike, said it was “obviously, with great sadness that I speak to you today.”

“As the only child of my father, the love he gave to me was singular and bountiful,” she said about Randy D, who succumbed to prostate cancer on Jan. 14, at 69, at this home in Kingstown. “And as I said to him on his last day, no one could have loved him more than I do.

“As you can tell, I inherited the ability to love with a passion, and unconditionally,” added the pediatrician. “My daddy exhibited this characteristic in all facets of his life. As such, it goes without saying that no one has loved you all as my father had. He devoted his life to our country and Vincentian people as a whole. He respected and loved the beauty of the land, and the talent and culture of our people.

“He built his career trying to showcase our country and all it has to offer to the world,” continued Dr. Dopwell Louis-Obike in her national tribute. “Although I and his grandsons are his direct legacy, you all are a part of my daddy’s legacy. Therefore, I would be remiss if I did not take the opportunity to encourage you to continue to show the world what our country has to offer.

“You are beautiful, and that showed through the love and support you gave to my daddy and to me if we have met,” she said. “Your posts and comments are a testimony to who he is and the strength of his character.”

Dr. Dopwell Louis-Obike quoted from 2 Timothy 4:6-8 KJV in summing up what she described as Randy D’s “journey and the blessings that are to come: ‘For I am now ready to be offered, and the time of my departure is at hand. I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith: Henceforth, there is laid up for me a crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, shall give me at that day: and not to me only, but unto all them also that love his appearing.’

“I thank you once again for the love and support you gave to Randy D, the King of Radio, the host of Vibes Caribbean, a son, a brother, an uncle, a friend, and, most importantly, my daddy,” she said. “Please stay blessed and, eh, ‘keep the vibes alive.’”

In eulogizing Randy D, at the Service of Thanksgiving, Keith Boyea, Dr. Dopwell Louis-Obike’s godfather and Randy D’s very close friend, for over 50 years, said the late radio and TV personality was “a true and patriotic Vincentian.”

Boyea said he first met Randy D, when they were students at the St. Vincent and the Grenadines Grammar School, “sometime in the late 60s,” and that Randy D “impressed upon me to be a very friendly, jovial, funny but sociable person.”

After leaving the Grammar School, he noted that Randy D worked as a Customs Officer and that they bonded when they enrolled in Humber College in Toronto, Canada, in 1973, “greatly assisted by Mr. Bertram ‘Timmy’ Richards,” the late founder of the Intermediate High School in Kingstown.

A year later, Boyea said Randy D took a short break from Humber College to return home, so he can file his immigration papers.

During that time, Boyea said Randy D organized the “famous Snap Soul, a Saturday afternoon program at the Grammar School lawn,” which identified musical talent among young people.

“Quite a few musicians got their break from this program,” said Boyea, adding that, afterwards, Randy D returned to Humber College to complete his studies in radio broadcasting.

In 1977, Boyea said he and Randy D co-founded the local group Scenes Incorporated with Sheggy John, Coco Samuel and Roger Dalrymple, among others, “with the main aim to promote culture.”

After landing a job at the then lone Radio 705 in St. Vincent and the Grenadines, Boyea said Randy D met another broadcaster, Earl “Capp” Stephens, there, and that they subsequently formed Disco Connections, “one of the first sound systems to hit SVG (St. Vincent and the Grenadines).

“They became very popular and controlled most of the entertainment back then,” Boyea said.

He said Randy D managed the band X-A-Dus while working with another band, Asterisks, and calypsonian Alson Becket Cyrus.

Boyea said Randy D was one of the main persons responsible for forming the Undergraduates Calypso Tent, eventually becoming the Graduates Calypso Tent, one of the leading calypso tents in SVG for 30 years.

“Many calypso kings came from this tent,” Boyea said.

In 1989, he said Randy D returned to Canada to study television broadcasting with “the famous Roger’s Cable television and created his pet program, Vibes Caribbean.”

Boyea said that when Randy was fired from Radio 705, “it created havoc with Vincentians everywhere; hence, the reason for the popular Poorsha song ‘We want Randy D’”

Boyea said that song “became a national treasure and must be preserved for generations to come – a torn for the authorities to this day.”

Randy took over the “Night Riders” program on Nice Radio in St. Vincent and the Grenadines, from comedian Saluche, who, incidentally, died on the same date 14 years earlier, said Boyea, thanking Nice Radio manager and owner Douglas “Dougie” Defreitas.

On Nice Radio, Boyea said Randy D “operated his Morning Shift, Night Riders and Caribbean Linkup programs,” as well as the Vibes Caribbean program.

“Randy helped every young artist, whether it was in calypso, reggae, soul, hip hop or jazz genres,” Boyea said. “He was truly a cultural ambassador.

“St. Vincent (and the Grenadines) has lost a humble, proud and genuine son of the soil,” he added.

“I know we all recognize him for a job well done,” Boyea continued. “However, I am asking the Ministry of Culture and the Government, in some small way, to recognize Randy for his many contributions, so that generations to come will know of him (loud applause)”.

Randy D was interred immediately after the Service of Thanksgiving at the Kingstown Cemetery.

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