Grenada Prime Minister Dr. Keith Mitchell on Saturday joined a number of Caribbean community leaders and figures, among others, in eulogizing former United Nations Ambassador Dr. Lamuel Stanislaus at a massive funeral service in Brooklyn.
“Today, we celebrate the life of a brother by recognizing the quality of his life, and the dedication and sustained service to our country,” said Dr. Mitchell at the funeral service, at St. Francis of Assisi/St. Blaise Roman Catholic Church on Nostrand Avenue in Brooklyn, attended by a large number of dignitaries, including Grenada’s Deputy Prime Minister Elvin Nimrod and Former Foreign Affairs Minister Peter David, as well as local legislators, such as former New York City Council Member Jamaican Una S.T. Clarke and ex-Brooklyn Borough President Marty Markowitz.
“We stand with mixed emotions,” Mitchell added. “Our brother thought us serious lessons of simplicity. Our relationship was one of a long journey for which I cherished every moment. He demonstrated a life of sincerity and integrity.”
Hardly five months after he was recognized by United States President Barack Obama and US First Lady Michelle Obama, as “a part of our great American story,” Dr. Stanislaus died last Sunday at the MJHS Hospice Center in Brooklyn, where he was taken to two days before. He was 95.
Sir Lamuel, who was knighted by Queen Elizabeth II, had celebrated his 95th birthday on April 22. He told the Caribbean Life then that he was “suffering with the ravages of cancer of the prostrate and cancer of the bones.”
Mitchell said that, when he had called Sir Lamuel on his sick bed at this Brooklyn home, he said: “’Mr. Prime Minister, I’m on my last leg.’
“You know he was not well, but he always made you laugh,” the Grenadian leader said.
He recalled that, when he first toyed with the notion of challenging Stanislaus’ close friend, late Grenada Prime Minister Herbert Blaize, Stanislaus did not object, saying that, while Stanislaus supported his friend wholeheartedly, he said it was Mitchell’s right to oppose Blaize, given the country’s democratic system.
“And that told me something special about this man,” said Mitchell, alluding to Sir Lamuel. “I will always miss my friend. He did not indulge in any mean spiritedness to anyone.
“To his lasting credit, Dr. Stanislaus worked in situations where his morals and standards were tested,” he added. “He spoke candidly. I hope all of us will learn from Dr. Stanislaus.”
Additionally, the Grenadian prime minister said Sir Lamuel was “first and foremost” an advocate for the poor.
“He was a people’s person – a man for the ages,” he said. “Grenada has lost a dear son. We’ve lost someone who had contributed to this country. The New York Community has lost a beloved friend. He was a mover and shaker. Grenada and friends will forever be grateful for the path he made.”
But Mitchell said, while Sir Lamuel was a “‘simple man,’ never misinterpret that,” saying that Sir Lamuel was not only eloquent but sharp as well with the pen, and would retaliate in writing if attacked.
“Dr. Stanislaus, you served to inspire generations,” the prime minister said. “My brother, we’ll miss you. Rest comfortably in Abraham’s bosom.”
The Stanislaus family said Sir Lamuel was a “retired dentist by profession and a retired UN diplomat by appointment,” who had served twice as Grenada’s ambassador extraordinary and plenipotentiary representative to the United Nations (1985-1990) and (1998-2004).
Between these two appointments, he served as ambassador-at–large and deputy permanent representative for two years.
Born in Petite Martinique, Grenada’s smallest sister isle – the larger is Carriacou – Stanislaus was educated at Grenada Boys’ Secondary School (1933-1938) and Howard University in Washington, D.C., where he received his Bachelor of Science (summa cum laude) degree in 1948, and the Doctor of Dental Surgery (DDS) degree in 1953.
He was engaged in the private practice of dentistry in New York City for 32 years before taking up the UN appointments, the family said.
“There, he became known as a seasoned, substantive and eloquent voice on behalf of his country, and, on occasions, when he was delegated to speak on behalf of the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) and the Group of Latin America and the Caribbean countries (GRULAC),” the family said.
Sir Lamuel also served for a year as a vice-president of the UN General Assembly, “during which he was appointed to act for a month in the absence of the president, receiving highest commendation for the conduct of the business of the General Assembly for that month,” according to the Stanislaus family.
The family also said another highlight of Stanislaus’ tenure was “the persuasive statement made before the Decolonization Committee, which resulted in the invitation to the then chief minister of Montserrat to come to the UN to plead his case for additional help for his volcanic-ravaged island.”
The family, however, said Sir Lamuel’s legacy to his country and to 11 other small Commonwealth countries at the United Nations is what is known as the “Small States Joint Office at the UN, where the larger Commonwealth States have given well-appointed shared offices to smaller Commonwealth States rent free for the past 25 years and counting.”
“Our father paid a legacy comparable to no other,” Stanislaus’s only daughter, Karen, a lawyer, told hundreds of mourners. “He served human kind – the downtrodden, the marginalized, the suffering. He had humility, sensitivity and wisdom. He was by far the smartest person I ever met.”
“I lieu of time, I did not have the opportunity to be loquacious and expansive,” said Eugene Stanislaus, Sir Lamuel’s one of four sons, who had taken over his father’s dental practice on retirement, in attempting to imitate Sir Lamuel’s eloquence.
Clarke, the first Caribbean-born woman ever to represent New York City Council, said she was “privileged” to represent the Caribbean community in New York at the funeral mass, stating: “Let his [Stanislaus] vision live with us.”
Markowitz said about Sir Lamuel: “No man was more eloquent, more sophisticated, brilliant, good looking [laughter]. He was the voice of the Caribbean [community in New York].
“Faith teaches us that we will all meet again,” Markowitz said. “What a life! Shalom!”
Bill Howard, the president of the Brooklyn-based West Indian American Day Carnival Association (WIADCA), said Stanislaus was one of WIADCA’s founding members and that he had known Sir Lamuel for more than 53 years.
Howard also said he and Sir Lamuel had worked closely on the late Caribbean American Congresswoman Shirley Chisholm’s campaign in the late 1960s to early 1970s.
“I’m grateful to Dr. Stanislaus,” he said after pointing out other WIADCA executive members among mourners.
Monsignor Paul Jervis, the church’s pastor, who officiated during the near two-hour-long funeral service, said Stanislaus was a “devoted member” of the church for the past 60 years.
“Retirement for Dr. Stanislaus brought no rest,” said Monsignor Jervis in his homily, adding that Sir Lamuel “became a vibrant leader in the West Indian Community here in New York
“He brought the West Indian community together, and he promoted good will among all people,” the priest added.
Jeannine Williams, sister of New York City Council Member Jumaane Williams, served as soloist intermittently throughout the service, complementing the church’s choir at times. Her particular rendition of “Ave Maria” was breath-taking.
Stanislaus was interred Saturday afternoon at the Canarsie Cemetery in Brooklyn. A repast followed, at El Caribe Country Club, on Strickland Avenue in Brooklyn.