A Vincentian centenarian residing in Amityville in Suffolk County, Long Is., who would have turned 105 on Thursday, died Saturday morning – five days short of what would have been another significant milestone.
Marcina King-Jeffrey, who was born in Diamonds Village in the South Central Windward constituency in St. Vincent and the Grenadines and who lived in Harlem, lower Manhattan and Brooklyn over the years before moving to Long Is. to live with her daughter, Bernice King-Maccow, died at Good Samaritan Hospital in West Islip, Suffolk County, Long Is., Mrs. King-Maccow told Caribbean Life in an exclusive interview on Monday.
Mrs. King-Maccow, who was also born in Diamonds Village, said her mother’s cause of death was a stroke. She said Mrs. King-Jeffrey died at the hospital four days after she was taken there after not feeling well.
She said the family had planned a big birthday bash for Mrs. King-Jeffrey on Saturday, at Plattduetsche Park Catering, on Hempstead Turnpike, Franklin Square in Long Is., but cancelled it after she fell ill.
Mrs. King-Maccow said her mother will be interred on Friday, at Woodlawn Cemetery in the Bronx, a day after what would have been her 105th birthday.
Viewing and a funeral service, at Wakefield Grace United Methodist Church, 4750 White Plains Road, Bronx, will precede the interment.
Mrs. King-Maccow said her mother’s remains will be buried next to her sister’s, Elaine King-Thomas, and also in the same cemetery as her brother’s, Bromwell King.
“She made her plans 15 years ago (to be buried in the same cemetery as her siblings),” Mrs. King-Maccow said.
Besides Mrs. King-Maccow, Mrs. King-Jeffrey is survived by a son, Kerwyn King, who lives in the Bronx. Mrs. King-Jeffrey’s other daughter, Cleopatra King-Martin, died 12 years ago, from cancer, in Detroit.
Mrs. King-Jeffrey’s husband, Claudius Jeffrey, originally from the leeward side of mainland St. Vincent, predeceased her about 20 years ago. They lived on Rockaway Parkway in Brooklyn, Mrs. King-Maccow said. She could not recall the exact village or town in St. Vincent and the Grenadines where Mr. Jeffrey was born.
“I am very sad, very sad,” said Mrs. King-Maccow about her mother’s passing. “She always said she was waiting on the Lord. She was a mild-mannered person. She was kind and sympathetic. She always thought about the family.
“Not because she was my mother, she was a wonderful person,” Mrs. King-Maccow added. “I loved her; I still love her.
“Her words were ‘live light,’” Mrs. King-Maccow continued. “She just loved the Lord, and she traveled light. She never explained what it means. She never had any burdens to put her down. She never fussed with anyone. She never had any discomfort, enmity. That’s how I interpret it.”
Brenda King-Samuel, Mrs. King-Jeffrey’s niece, who lives in Hempstead, Nassau County, Long Is., told Caribbean Life, that her aunt was the seventh of eight children, born in Diamonds Village, to Duke and Adelphima King.
Mrs. King-Samuel said Mrs. King-Jeffrey was born on May 30, 1914. Her siblings – Bromwell King, Elaine King-Thomas, Edna King-Williams, Shanders King, Myrtle King-McDonald, Amabel King and Viva King-Boatswain – predeceased her.
Mrs. King-Samuel said her aunt was an elementary school teacher at the then Union Methodist School in South Central Windward in St. Vincent and the Grenadines before migrating to the United States in January 1945 to join an older brother and her sister, Elaine, in Harlem.
She immediately became an active member of the Beulah Wesleyan Methodist Church in Harlem, Mrs. King-Samuel said.
Determined to be successful, she said her aunt then enrolled in an unidentified bookkeeping school to become a bookkeeper.
After graduation, Mrs. King-Samuel said Mrs. King-Jeffrey worked, for over 50 years, at Halpern and Christianfeld in the garment district in Manhattan, retiring at 80.
“She was the only black employee (at the concern) for a number of years,” Mrs. King-Samuel said, adding that her aunt was “confident of her skills and ability; therefore, she refused to be intimidated by her colleagues.”
After retiring, Mrs. King-Maccow said her mother resided, for 20 years, at St. Margaret’s House, a home for senior citizens on Fulton Street, in the Wall Street section in lower Manhattan, becoming an active member at John Street United Methodist Church in lower Manhattan.
“At that time, she couldn’t do much for herself, so the best thing was for her to come to live with her family,” said Mrs. King-Maccow, disclosing that her mother lived with her for about 12 years before she died.
She also said her mother had moved to St. Margaret’s House, from Brooklyn, after her late husband went to the Great Beyond.
“I think my aunt lived a full, successful and spiritual life,” Mrs. King-Samuel said. “All of her nieces, including myself, and nephews are blessed to have had her in our lives.
“My aunt always expressed that she believed her longevity was because of her healthy diet and she ‘traveled light,’” she added.