Leading community figure passes

Selwyn Cumberbatch, a leading Vincentian community figure in New York and a former staff sergeant in the Royal St. Vincent and the Grenadines Police Force, died on Feb. 9. He was 70.

Relatives did not state the cause of death but said Cumberbatch, originally from Richmond Hill, Kingstown, the Vincentian capital, was “engaged to be married on September 2015 to Barbara Capers, of New York.”

Cumberbatch, affectionately known as “Compo” – who migrated to New York in 1980 with his late wife, the former Elva Alves – had resided in Brooklyn ever since “and soon became an icon in the community,” relatives said.

He was a member of – and supported – many Vincentian and Caribbean organizations in the New York metropolitan area, relatives said.

Cumberbatch was a former president of the Brooklyn-based St. Vincent and the Grenadines Ex-Police Association of New York, Inc. and the Council of St. Vincent and the Grenadines’ Organizations, U.S.A., Inc. (COSAGO), the umbrella Vincentian group in the United States, which is also based in Brooklyn. Additionally, up to his death, he was a lay speaker at St. Mark’s United Methodist Church in the Flatbush section of Brooklyn.

Parishioners said he officiated at the church’s worship service the day before he died.

Relatives said Cumberbatch had “an extensive career” in the Royal St. Vincent and the Grenadines Police Force, where he also served as a detective and “person-in-charge at the Windward district in Biabou.

“There, many still [who] revere him as the person instrumental in establishing the soccer league,” said relatives, stating that he was an “outstanding long distance runner in his youth, and excelled in cricket and soccer in St. Vincent [and the Grenadines].”

Cumberbatch began his career in New York as a security officer at the then Manufacturers Hanover Trust bank, now Chase Bank, while pursuing a degree in banking at Pace University.

Relatives said he “survived” several banking mergers, finally retiring in 2011 from the Bank of New York Mellon.

He inspired his children and grandchildren to achieve degrees in chemical engineering, accounting, finance, business administration, sociology, criminal justice, marketing and development administration, relatives said.

In devoting his spiritual life to St. Mark’s United Methodist Church, relatives said Cumberbatch “spent countless hours in private study of the scriptures.

“He became in fixture at Wednesday night meetings and regular church service,” they said. “More than anything else, Selwyn excelled in fellowship.”

“He had a knack for extending himself to all, with great charisma, charm, a quick wit and extreme dedication,” they added. “You can count on him to prepare [ing] food, supporting events [and] lend [ing] personal assistance.”

He “just made everyone feel beloved, no matter the occasion,” relatives continued. “His smile and kindness will survive him into all eternity. He will be missed by all.”

Cumberbatch – who was born on Dec. 15, 1944 to the late Vincent and Mary Cumberbatch, of Richmond Hill – was the father of five: Colin, La-Ferne, Petrona, Laurie and Curtis (who predeceased him).

His siblings include Kenrick, Noel, Brian, Bertram, Leroy (deceased) and his only sister, Yvonne.

His 10 grand-children are Leneille, Monique, Stephen, Nathan, Lauren, Tyla, Seray, Langston, Kyra and Kordel.

Cumberbatch is also survived by two great-grand-children – Braylon and Chance.

Hundreds of community members are expected to pay final tribute to Cumberbatch at a wake and funeral service on Sunday, Feb. 22, at St. Mark’s United Methodist Church, whose pastor is also Vincentian-born, the Rev. Dr. Glyger Beach.

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