Vincentian widow Ynolde Mavis James celebrated her 80th birthday with her Christian Heritage Church family in Brooklyn on July 7.
At the four-hour gala ceremony at the church sanctuary at 4141 Ave. J, family, friends and relatives showered praises on James, a former elementary school teacher in her native land, describing her as a “true child of God,” “virtuous woman,” “golden girl,” “trustworthy,” and “faithful,” among other superlatives.
“I honor you, I adore you, I bless you for the years, and I want to say, ‘thank you,’” said the church’s Jamaican-born pastor, Bishop Albert Delmadge, in his tribute. “Continue to serving God, and let your life continue.”
Bishop Delmadge’s Jamaican-born wife, co-pastor Merna Delmadge, noted that James, whose husband, Eleazar William James went to the Great Beyond four years ago, wakes up at 4:00 a.m. every day to pray with at least two church sisters.
“We met some time in the ‘80’s, and her walk has become closer to God,” said Mrs. Delmadge. “She prays early in the morning, and she’s blessed.”
Clive Earle, a teacher at the church’s high school, said she knew James for 24 years, describing her as a “virtuous woman.”
“She’s very loving and kind and very generous,” he said. “Sis. James lives a true Christian life. She’s a mother, a grandmother, a sister, an aunt and a friend.
“She’s been instrumental in the life of our family,” he added. “She and her (late) husband lived such an exemplary life – a model to our lives.”
The James’s only daughter, Valcie, paid tribute to her parents, describing her late father as a “man we looked up to.”
“Thank you for the father you created for us,” she said, adding about her mother, “I’m thankful I have her, and thank M.D. (Mother Dearest) for everything.”
The Jamaican-born couple Joseph and Daphnie Higgins, as well as their compatriot, Antoinette Gilroy, a registered nurse at SUNY Downstate Hospital, paid tribute in song.
Mr. Higgins, also a guitarist, later said James was a sound role model.
“To hear what your daughter (Valcie) said today proves we’re on the right track,” he said. “Set examples and leave it to God.
“I will call you today a ‘golden girl’,” he added.
James’ prayer partner, another Jamaican, Nola Fullwood, said they have “come a long way.”
“Ever since we met, we just connected,” she said. “She fits a ‘Proverbs 31 woman’ (virtuous woman).
“She’s been called by many names, but most of all is ‘darling,’” she added, attributing the description to James’ late husband.
James later said Fullwood “never leaves me.”
“She calls me like my (late) husband, ‘hi darling,’” she said to loud laughter.
James’ grandson, Nekkora, 25, said his grandmother’s discipline kept him out of jail.
“I may not be the most religious person, but she kept me out of prison,” he said.
“I thank you for the whopping (whipping),” he added. “I thank you for raising my brother (Rashide, 23) and me. I am so grateful for having what a lot of people don’t have.”
James thanked the attendees and “all those who worked to ensure I have a happy birthday.”
“God has kept me for 80 years,” she said. “I am happy in the Lord.”