Hundreds pay tribute to Barbadian entertainer

Nelson A. King

Hundreds of Barbadian and other Caribbean nationals on Friday paid their last respect to Alvin Headley, described as the “consummate entertainer, the life of the event,” at a funeral at Fenimore Street United Methodist Church in Brooklyn.

Headley, of Mt. Standfast, St. James, Barbados and a staunch member of Fenimore Street United Methodist Church, died on June 16. He was 57.

While the cause of death was not made public, Headley, in recent months, was active in his church and in the community until his hospitalization.

“I thank God for the time I spent with my uncle,” said Wendell Osbourne, the second oldest of Headley’s nephews, at the 2 ½ hour-long service, attended by a wide cross-section of the Caribbean community, including Barbadians, Vincentians, Jamaicans, Trinidadians and Guyanese.

“He was easily one of the greatest uncles to ever walk on this planet,” Osbourne added. “My uncle, he changed lives and helped people. His life was changed; he did a good job.”

One of Headley’s friends, who only gave his name as Dwayne, said Headley was “the kind of person to help everyone.

“He helped everyone and everybody,” Dwayne said. “He would go out of his way [to help others]. He had a heart of gold.

“His family treated me like family,” he added. “The world got a little sad. He’ll be truly missed.”

Another friend, Gladwyn, said he met Alvin in 1993, and “we became more brothers than friends.

“Any problems and he’s there,” he added, accompanied by his girlfriend, with whom they gave their “hearts to God” a few weeks ago. “He had a kind heart. The world is a little sadder because of Alvin [death].”

Merle Bartley, the Jamaican-born chair of the Pastor-Parish Relations Committee at Fenimore Street United Methodist Church, said Headley was a “stalwart member” of the church.

Guyanese Ivor Griffith, a member of the church’s Chancel and United Methodist Men choirs, the latter of which Headley was secretary and “the driving force”, said Headley was “a people’s person.

“He thought of everybody,” said Griffith, stating, at the same time, that Headley was very outspoken. “He will be greatly missed. He’s in the arms of the Lord. Alvin, your time was short.”

Brenda Hutto, the Trinidadian-born chair of the Education Committee at Fenimore Street United Methodist Church, said Headley was “a brother to me.

“Anytime I felt depressed, I will call Alvin,” she said. “When he was going down [getting more sick], it became hard for me.

“Inside, my heart is heavy, very heavy,” she added. “We’ll be able [were able] to laugh and talk of the old times. I thank his mother for raising such a wonderful young man.”

Pastor Andrea Moore-Smith, whose parents hail from Barbados and who offered the “Prayer of Comfort,” said Headley was “a giving person.

“Alvin never denied his love of Jesus Christ,” she said. “Alvin was always feeding somebody. We thank God for Alvin.”

In reading the obituary, Julie Osbourne, one of Headley’s aunts, flanked by cousin Dr. Jennifer Hurley, said: “This is a job of high honor to speak on [about] the only gem of this family.”

Osbourne said Headley, who was called “Magoo” by his closest friends, was born on Aug. 14, 1958 to the late Lionel Headley and Eloise Headley.

Headley attended the St. Alban’s Infant School in Lower Carlton, St. Alban’s Junior School in the Garden and St. James Mixed School in Holetown — all in St. James, Barbados.

On migration to New York, Osbourne said Headley was the top salesman at Marilyn and Ardie’s store on Nickerbocker Avenue in Brooklyn; a United Parcel Service (UPS) delivery man; and personal banker at Irving Trust/Bank of New York.

“His vibrant personality put him in constant demand with family, relatives, friends and church family,” Osbourne said. “He loved to entertain and travel, and he lived life to the fullest.”

She said Headley was instrumented in planning family reunions and other events, including cruises.

“He was the consummate entertainer, the life of the event,” Osbourne said. “Alvin touched many lives, including helping total strangers, with his friendliness, generosity and laughter. His untimely passing has left his family, relatives, friends, neighbors and church family shaken. He can never be replaced.”

The Rev. Dr. Maxine Nixon, pastor of Fenimore Street United Methodist Church, said she loved to be around Headley “because he was so joyful.

“What I love about him, if he hears something, he always loves to get to the bottom of it,” she said. “He was such a wonderful person, and we thank Mother Headley [Eloise Headley] for raising such a wonderful person. Alvin was one who initiated Christ in his walk and his talk.

“We love Alvin, but God loves him more,” Rev. Nixon added. “Alvin’s life was an example for us. He loved his God.”

Headley was interred on Saturday, July 2, at Rosehill Cemetery, Linden, NJ.

The Rev. Dr. Maxine Nixon (R) gives last rites to Alvin Headley, as the Rev. Andrea Moore-Smith looks on.
Photo by Nelson A. King

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