Vincentian centurion passes

Inez Elise Young.
Nelson A. King

Inez Elise Young, née Dougan, who was born on Oct. 30, 1912 to one Mr. Dougan and Wilhelmina Birkette, of Old Montrose, Kingstown, the Vincentian capital, died on June 18, in Brooklyn.

The 103-year-old Young, who had resided in Manhattan Beach, Brooklyn, was a resident at the Palm Gardens Nursing and Rehabilitation Center in the same borough.

She was in and out of the hospital in the latter stages of her life, her great-nephew, Rawle Mars, an accountant, who currently resides in St. Kitts, told Caribbean Life in an exclusive interview.

Mars, who grew up with Young until he was 12, and several relatives were among mourners at a two-hour-long funeral service last Thursday at Young’s home church, Sheepshead Bay United Methodist Church, in the Sheepshead Bay section of Brooklyn.

“I can tell you, she loved me to her heart; she treated me like her son,” said Mars in his tribute at the funeral service, presided over by the church’s Jamaican-born pastor the Rev. Sharon Cundy.

“I had to attend Sunday School,” he added. “Those virtues made me who I am today.”

Chester Peters, Mars’ younger brother and another of Young’s great-nephews, said he “distinctly remembered” Young as a Sunday School teacher in her native land.

“What she was doing was serving humanity,” the Brooklyn resident, a former banker in St. Vincent and the Grenadines, told mourners. “Even in her ‘90s, she volunteered at Coney Island Hospital [in Brooklyn].

“She has installed virtues in me,” added Peters, disclosing that he volunteers in teaching literacy at the Brooklyn Public Library.

Doreen “June” Price said she got closer to her aunt during the last eight years.

“We had some wonderful visits,” she said. “My aunt was an exceptional lady where God was concerned. I know she’s with the Saviour. She’s where she’s supposed to be.”

Another relative, Merle “Margaret” Mars-Bryson, who was born in Trinidad and Tobago, said, when she migrated to St. Vincent and the Grenadines, the country of her parents’ birth, Young had already left for New York. But she said she was happy that Young loved God.

“I’m happy to see my relatives,” Mars-Bryson told mourners. “It’s a blessing to know the Lord. I know she [Young] loved the Lord. It’s such a blessing.”

Melba Villafana, a member of the Sheepshead Bay United Methodist Church, said she knew Young for 35 years.

“She used to sit next to me when we were singing [in the choir],” she said. “She really loved me; I know that for sure.

“She was never out [absent from church] on a Sunday,” Villafana added. “She was always here. She wore high heels every Sunday. She had a sense of style. She strutted her stuff [laughter].”

Mars said Young’s siblings — Samuel, Maurice, Beryl, Albina and Ruby — predeceased her.

“Although all of them lived long lives, she was the only one to become a centurion,” he said, adding that, in 1958, Young married Samuel Young, who died in 1975.

He said while the union produced no children, Young took care of Ken, her stepson, and him.

Mars said his great aunt was a housewife “for the better part of her life in St. Vincent and the Grenadines,” and that she also “ran a preschool at one time.

“Today, many of the students who attended her school have become quite successful in St. Vincent [and the Grenadines] and further afield, including here in the United States,” he said, stating that Young was very active at her “home-grown church, the Kingstown Methodist Church,” before migrating.

Besides teaching Sunday School, Mars said Young was a member of the church’s Women’s League up to the time she left St. Vincent [and the Grenadines] to broaden her horizons in the United States of America.”

“Unfortunately, one day, while on her way to church [Sheepshead Bay United Methodist Church], Inez had a fall which curtailed her mobility,” said Mars in the obituary that he wrote. “It was because of her restricted mobility that Inez became a resident at the Palm Gardens Nursing and Rehabilitation Center in Brooklyn.

“Inez has now completed her earthly sojourn,” he added. “She did not accumulate material wealth, but the resources she left are spiritual and will last forever.”

In her eulogy, Rev. Cundy, who was born in Montego Bay, Jamaica’s second largest city and the island’s major tourist resort, said Young was tenacious and audacious in “standing up for God.”

“Even to the point of death, she was worshipping God,” Rev. Cundy said. “She was an encourager, a nurturer, a lover of God and lover of people.

“Sis. Inez lived her life free of envy, free of hatred; she talked good of folks,” she added. “It was her love of God that brought her to care for people.

“One thing I can say about Sis. Inez, she took out a life insurance policy, and Jesus Christ was that agent and she received full benefits with Jesus Christ,” Rev. Cundy continued.

Young was interred the next day, Friday July 1, at Rosemount Cemetery in Elizabeth, NJ.

Pastor Sharon Cundy eulogizes Vincentian centurion Inez Young.
Photo by Nelson A. King

More from Around NYC