Brooklyn-based Vincentian community leader Augustus L. “Bonnie” McMillan died on July 22 after ailing for about two years, according to Wayne Raguette, president of the group, Vincentian American National Charities, Inc. (VINCI), who succeeded McMillan after his affliction. McMillan was 64.
Hundreds of Vincentians, Caribbean nationals and others showed their last respects to McMillian, a certified public accountant (CPA) by profession, at a funeral, on July 31 at St. Augustine’s Episcopal Church on Avenue D in Brooklyn. His body was interred the next day at Canarsie Cemetery in Brooklyn.
“His presence was missed over the last two years,” said Raguette, a Brooklyn political consultant about McMillan, who worked in one of the twin towers of the then World Trade Center in lower Manhattan before the 9/11 terrorist attacks.
It was uncertain whether the attacks had any effect on McMillan’s health. His family did not disclose his cause of death.
“We believed he’s gone too soon, but God always knows best,” said Raguette in his eulogy. “It is said that those who we love don’t go away; they walk besides us every day, unseen, unheard, still loved and very dear.”
He described McMillan, also a former VINCI treasurer, as “a go getter,” who “believed strongly that he didn’t have to tell members what they needed to do – that they were there for a purpose; and they should get up off their behind and get the job done.”
“He gave of his time generously and his finances when the organization was struggling,” Raguette said. “Gus (Augustus) was the one who, several times, came up with the deposit to pay for the hall for our annual luncheon.
“He was quiet, dedicated, a little fiery when he argued a point; but always gracious, even when under pressure and when he lost his point, but always ready to assist,” Raguette added.
In reading the obituary, Alicia McMillan, one of McMillan’s seven children whom he had with his ex-wife, Joan McMillan, said her father was born on Feb. 15, 1955 to the late Eileen McMillan and Conrod Ottley in Mesopotamia in the Marriaqua Valley in St. Vincent and the Grenadines.
She said her father was “a student all his life” and that education was “his passion.”
“There seemed to be something in him that worked like a sponge, waiting to absorb any knowledge that was available,” Alicia said. “And, for him, learning was fun.”
She said McMillan received his formative education at the Marriaqua and Belmont Government schools in St. Vincent and the Grenadines.
In pursuit of the American Dream, she said McMillan migrated to the United States, where he earned his Bachelor of Science degree in taxation from Brooklyn College, City University of New York (CUNY), and a Master of Science in the same discipline from Washington School of Graduate Studies.
In addition, Alicia said her father earned bachelor’s and master’s degrees in law from the University of London.
“It is that passion that she shared with her children,” she said about McMillan’s penchant for education, adding: “Daddy challenged everyone to live up to their greatest potential, and he provided his children with the support they needed.”
Alicia said her father “loved to write and tell stories, and was an accomplished author of two books and many articles.”
In his book, “Beyond the Statue,” she said he wrote about “longing for the American Dream.”
She also read excerpts from his novel, the title of which was not mentioned.
“’The morning of my graduation, I walked away from my home wearing my suit and carrying my gown in a bag…’,” Alicia quoted her father as writing. “’My journey had reached its end. I was finally saying goodbye to my trip through the doldrums of poverty’”.
She said McMillan had over 20 years of experience in accounting and business development.
She also said he worked for many years as a financial analyst with the New York City Housing Authority (NYCHA).
Besides being a CPA, Alicia said her father was a commodities trading advisor and “a beloved college professor.” She did not disclose which college or colleges he taught at.
Laverne McDowald Thompson, president of the Brooklyn-based Vincentian umbrella group in the United States, Council of St. Vincent and the Grenadines Organizations, U.S.A., Inc. (COSAGO), told Caribbean Life briefly that “many are left to grief his (McMillan) love, his compassion, his dedication, his service to the community, his kindheartedness and his humbleness.”
Besides Alicia, McMillan is survived by his six other children – Osric, Laurina, Allister, Natasha, Yolene and Yolande; 10 grandchildren; 10 siblings – Douglas, Randolph, Bernadette, Jennifer, Checkley, Erlene; Ingrid, Brian, Grafton and Maxine; and two aunts – Thelma Johnson and Ester DeSouza.