Eulogy: Kenneth Joseph
For those of you who don’t know me, my name is Earl Inniss, a very good friend of Ken, and a fellow, former soldier of the St. Vincent Cadet Force.
Kenneth Percival Joseph was born October 25th, 1964 of parents, George Durrant and Vida Joseph, both now deceased.
He was affectionately known as, “Ken” to many and as “Kenny” to others. He was also known as “Unit 5” – his CB/Walkie Talkie handler back in the day. He was especially proud of his nickname, “Stoneman”. In fact, I recalled creating his email address (for him), email@example.com some many years ago. Please do not send any email now as it is to late!
Ken attended the St. Mary’s Catholic Primary School and subsequently, the St. Martin’s Secondary School. The education and discipline he received at those institutions along with the guidance and love of his parents helped to shape the kind of person Ken turned out to be; he was a good human being!
While at St. Martin’s, Ken joined the St. Vincent Cadet Force and later became a member of the Cadet Force band, where he became one of our best Trumpeters. He then worked his way up to the rank of Officer in the Saint Vincent & The Grenadines Cadet Force - 2nd Lieutenant to be exact.
He was passionate about being a Cadet - well disciplined, a slick dresser too -- his pants were so tight at the waist, we called him, “Jack-Spanner Waist”! He was a militant: Just about every band practice, he would pick on one guy – I don’t want to call any names but his nickname begins with the letters B-E-A-R. Having spoken about this with Mr. Barker, a former member of the Cadet band who came after me, he indicated that Ken picked on everyone during his tenure…but during my time, it was just this one guy. Over the years, however, these guys became very close friends. When Ken had newly migrated to the US, they both drove down from Brooklyn to pay me a surprise visit in Philadelphia. This same guy - whom we will affectionately refer to as B-E-A-R - in Ken's honor, was the one who called and informed me of Ken’s passing. It was a sobering conversation filled with the devastating news that none of us wanted to hear. First, it was shock but then it turned to the utter sadness that I'm sure many of you also felt, when I realized that it was my dear friend Ken who had gone to soon!
After completing Secondary school, however, Ken worked as a Junior Clerk at the, “Ministry of Communications And Works”. His co-workers described him as a very friendly person who loved his mom–as he always talked about her. Growing up together, I knew for a fact, that he was very close to his dad as well. As a young boy, Ken dreamt of becoming a pilot. He had even expressed interest in joining the US Air Force so he could pursue his childhood dream. While at the Ministry of Communications And Works, he became very close friends with Mrs. Marcia Davis who, along with his other co-workers, encouraged him to get a transfer to work at the airport as he spoke a lot about wanting to fly planes. Upon getting this transfer, he worked at the airport as an Airport Cadet and was subsequently sent to Canada to train to become an Air Traffic Controller.
Upon completing his nine months or so of training, he worked as an Air Traffic Controller at the E.T. Joshua Airport in Arnos Vale for about twelve years.
As I alluded to, Ken dreamt of flying planes and he would make paper planes and pretended to be a pilot. Ken idolized his father and the defining moment for him was when he saw a picture of his dad in an Airplane cockpit. He knew for certain then, that he was going to become a pilot. But, because drama follows Ken wherever he goes, no one was surprised that when he went off to Trinidad to train for his Private Pilot License he would do so in the middle of the “Abu Bakka” uprising of 1990. And he was staying in the home where his Aunt sadly was shot but amidst the crisis and tragedy he persevered, held strong and was able to pass his exams, got his PPL License and was on his way to realizing his dream.
When it was time for Ken to go off to the US to train for his Commercial Pilot License d, drama struck again- Could you believe that all the US money he had for flight school got stolen from his home on the eve of his going off to flight school? But failing was never an option for Ken so he went ahead, boarded that plane determined that even though he didn’t have a clue how he was going to accomplish his dream, he was not going to give up. It was not his way to sit by and let things happen. Ken made things happen and conquered all adversity fearlessly with humor and grit.
His good friend Reggie Adams whom he affectionately called “Nubbs” will attest to this since they both went off together first to Barbados and then to the United States to conquer the skies - pounding stones and working like a Hebrew Slave (as Ken would say) looking for better opportunities to fly bigger and better planes.
Ken was passionate about his flying career and he was proud of his achievements, always striving to upgrade himself, wanting to be the best at what he did. While Ken made his way up in his career he was never selfish, he always looked out for others to inspire and encourage. He felt it was his job to help his fellow pilots get opportunities too, and he was never to busy to give information and dispense advice.
Ken began his flying career at home here in St. Vincent where he was employed by Mustique Airways and then SVG Air. He then went to Barbados to fly the Regional Security System plane and soon after went off to the United States to fly for Odessy Transport. Then it was on to US Airways and finally Mesa Airline which was based in Arizona and there he made his home. His pursuit to always bettering himself took him to India where he flew for Alliance Air and was upgraded to Captain of the CRJ Aircraft in a very short time. After four years, he jumped planes again and landed in Nigeria where he flew for Arik Air, as the Training Captain for the CRJ fleet and if it were up to him he would have gone on to achieving even greater goals. For Ken, the sky was not his limit. He was admired, well loved, and respected in his field as a hard worker and a perfectionist.
Ken said when he retired he was going to become a fisherman and as a fisherman in training, whenever he came home to St. Vincent he would hook up with his fishing buddies - “Lauren” would rig up his dozens of fishing lines and “Indian” would always find time to carry him out in his fishing boat which to his wife’s dismay is no bigger than a tub. His biggest catch was fairly recent and of course Ken made sure everyone knew about it, so a photo of his catch went viral. The way Ken told it you would have believed he caught the fish but the truth I heard was the fish caught Ken and was dragging him around in the tub; It was a wrestling match but of course Ken got his way. I know of no one else who can spin a good story like Ken and he was always the life of any gathering.
Ken impacted many lives; his personality was so engaging that you were instantly drawn to him. Just meeting him for one minute he would make you feel like he was your new best friend. This is how his friend Reggie Adams summed him up. Ken was easy to love. He was fun. He loved a good time. He worked hard. He was brave and not afraid of the unknown. He was proud. He was proud to be black. He loved his wife Charmine. He loved all his family. He was very proud of his brother Perry. His niece Lonique was the daughter he never had. His Mom was everything. He looked up to his father, George. He loved and took care of his son, Daniel and he was a great friend.
Ken was greatly loved by his wife, Charmine, son, Daniel, niece/daughter, Lonique or GOULD as he affectionately called her, his little niece, Kailey, his closest brothers and sisters – Gordon, Steve, Perry, Joycelyn and Lonelle. Ken loved and took care of his family and nothing was ever too much to give. To his loved ones and his many friends he will be an irreplaceable loss and will never be forgotten.
Ken was kind-hearted – he loved people. It is often said that "opposites attract" and that may well be true but I believe more importantly, that you attract who you are! And Ken, by his friendly demeanor and generous spirit, has attracted some great friends. Several years ago, one of my friends who had never met Ken had sent a refrigerator from New York to his Aunt here in St. Vincent. Ken advised him to ship it with his Uncle Carl, volunteered to get it out of customs and made sure that it was delivered safely to its destination. Later when my friend asked him how much he owed him, Ken simply said "don't even worry about it"! They had only spoken on the phone but because this guy was my friend, Ken treated him as his friend also. What he did wasn't free, he paid for it all out of his own pocket but that's the kind of person Ken was - a people person, generous and kind!
In reflecting on all the years that I knew my good friend, I don't recall a time when he was ever angry or felt some ill-will toward me. Even, way back when I broke his 3-channel walkie-talkie (a prized possession at the time) – if he did, he did not show it! Another friend of ours, Cleve Scott was there, he could testify to that. And for this, I have the utmost respect for my good friend, Ken.
Ken was entertaining too – always ready to make time for you when you return home. In the early days, he’ll pick you up at the airport, take you where you wanted to go and simply take time out of his busy schedule to hang out with you.
Many of you, I'm sure, have similar stories to share, about a man not only living his dream but being a good citizen of humanity.
Personally, I was really looking forward to next year as I was planning to vacation here with my family and hoped that we could spend some time with him and his family as I believe he was planning to be here also.
But, so much for that plan. Ken's untimely passing serves as a reminder of our own mortality and as my Mom always says: “Tomorrow is not promised to any of us!”
To his son, “Daniel”; I would like to say, remember your dad as you grow up into manhood; reference all the memories you have and those shared by others. Honor him by being a good man, dream big and strive hard to achieve those dreams. Push forward to be the best you can be! That is the example your father set - a little boy with a big dream getting to the top of the mountain. He had the discipline and he had the drive; his dream wasn't deferred and he wasn't going to be denied. He was the epitome of a dream - fulfilled!
And to Ken’s immediate family, I say thank you: Cheiney, Gordon, Steve and Perry
Firstly, I thank you for this opportunity to stand here and say good bye to my friend, to our friend.
Secondly, I thank you guys for welcoming me into your home during a short time when I lived with my brother; he wasn’t a great cook but your mom was – thank you for allowing me to break bread with you. I don’t recall who suggested it, whether it was Ken or I but I knew who made it happen: Ken did!!! And certainly, like Ken, you were always full of respect and warmth toward me - I thank you! Your family will always have a special place in my heart!!!
And lastly, a special thank you to the organization that made this all possible (i.e. my getting to know Kenneth Percival Joseph, as friend and comrade – a bond that lasted a lifetime), the St. Vincent & The Grenadines Cadet Force, represented here by Commander, “Dwight Lewis”. Thank you sir, for your support.
Although Ken and I attended the St. Martin’s Secondary School, there would be no friendship had it not been for the Cadet force and more importantly, had it not been for the Cadet Force band. He was my senior in school but always treated me as an equal, as a member of the Cadet Force band and as a friend. Influenced by such great men of valor, RSM Yearwood, CSM Alwyn Leacock, Band Master Maxwell Porter, and so many more to numerous to mention; we have developed the discipline to achieve whatever goals we had set for ourselves! You instilled in us a gentle spirit exhibited by the life of our fallen comrade, Kenneth Percival Joseph.
And so, as we bring this portion of the celebration of his life to a close, feel free to join with me - fellow soldiers that are here - in saluting this fallen comrade as a symbol of our good bye!
To all of his other family and friends that are gathered here: Be encouraged! Grief may endure for a night but Joy cometh in the morning!
I am comforted by his last Skype Status Update that I had seen over the Summer: It read in-part…
“Living the Dream – In Paradise…” - Truer words were never spoken!
Ken always got the last say and it is ironic that he got to choose his own casket. He jokingly chose one for himself while picking out one for his father so he will have nothing to complain about the way he was laid to rest. And as the cowboy in Ken would say - it’s time for him to get out of Dodge by Sun down.
Good bye, so long, fallen comrade, Friend, Father and Husband – You will be greatly missed!
Gone, way to soon!!