Caribbean community pays tribute to former SVG netball star, cultural figure Debra Bobb – Carib Vibe Radio
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Caribbean community pays tribute to former SVG netball star, cultural figure Debra Bobb

Relatives, friends and Vincentian community leaders joined the Caribbean community in New York Friday evening in paying their last respects to Debra Bobb, a former national netball star in St. Vincent and the Grenadines and founding member of the United Vincie Cultural Group of Brooklyn (UVCGB), who died suddenly at her home in East New York in Brooklyn on Sun., Dec. 26. She was 57.

Despite the surge in COVID-19 cases in New York, mourners followed COVID-19 guidelines in wearing masks and hand-sanitizing during the three-hour-long funeral service at Miracle Temple Ministries International, an evangelical church in the Brownsville section of Brooklyn, where Bobb’s eldest sister, Pastor Dr. Roxie Morris, also a former national netball star in St. Vincent and the Grenadines, is a long-standing member.

In tributes after tributes, mourners remembered Bobb, who worked for 22 uninterrupted years at telecommunications giant Verizon until her death, as a jovial, free-giving, loving, caring, devoted, committed, selfless and patriotic person, among other superlatives.

“I come here with a very heavy heart,” said Stephen Gabriel, Bobb’s eldest brother, before reading Ecclesiastes 3:1-11, “To everything there is a season…”

“It’s been very hard,” he added. “I’ll try my best.”

Before singing the Lord’s Prayer, Erlene Williams-King, a member of the Brooklyn-based Council of St. Vincent and the Grenadines Organizations, U.SA., Inc. (COSAGO), the umbrella Vincentian group in the United States, said she knew Bobb “very, very well”, recalling that they once travelled to St. Vincent and the Grenadines, where Bobb loaned her an evening gown to wear in order for Williams-King to perform at a concert since her luggage was delayed because of air transportation issues.

“It was a very beautiful black gown,” Williams-King said. “I didn’t want to give it back, but I did. I was home for two weeks without my luggage.”
Aunt Esme Bynoe said she was Bobb’s “baby nurse.”

“My heart is very, very broken,” she told mourners. “The last time I saw her was 2019. Tonight, I’m here but not here. People, when people dead (die), bawl (laughter).”

Ashley DeShong, another brother, said he was shocked when he learned about her sister’s passing, adding that politics was a major topic in their discussions.

“The battle lines were always drawn on many topics,” he said. “We shared a father together – different mother – but we shared one thing in common, love.”

Nephew Codi Bobb said Bobb’s words and memories “resound” in his mind.

“Aunty Debbie, you gave until it hurts,” he said. “You were a woman of action.”
William Tinglin, a family friend, described Bobb as “funny, kind, selfless, giver, bossy and attentive.”

“Debbie was a true example of what it is to give,” he said. “You live a life of memorable moments.”

St. Vincent and the Grenadines’ United States Consul General Howie Prince told the family that memories of Bobb will “be running all over your minds for a very long time,” using partial words from 2 Timothy: “She has fought a good fight…”

St. Vincent and the Grenadines Consul General, Howie Prince pays tribute. Photo by Nelson A. King

COSAGO President Laverne McDowald-Thompson said Bobb was a former representative for UVCGB and the Brooklyn-based Girls High School Alumnae, Inc. on the Council.

“Debbie had helped the organization to grow,” she said, reading a poem, captioned “Her Journey Has Just Began.”

Jamaican Sharon Spencer, a former coach for the Explorers Netball Club in Brooklyn, said she first met Bobb on the netball court in Brooklyn 28 years ago.

“Debbie was skillful, knowledgeable of the game but also tricky,” she said. “One of her characteristics was her willingness to take on the challenge.

“Debbie had high ideals,” she added. “Anything she took on, she will give 150 percent, but also very stubborn. You had to see these guys on the court.”

Debra Karen Bobb was born on Thursday, Oct. 22, 1964, in Vermont, South Leeward, St. Vincent and the Grenadines, to the late Alister O’Neil Irish-Bobb, also known as “Leon”, and Rosemarie Bobb.

Bobb and her siblings were raised by their maternal grandmother, the late Caryl Ernestine Wiseman, affectionately called “Miss Carol,” in Campden Park, South Leeward, who became guardian of their household.

Rosemarie Bobb, a nurse at the then Kingstown General and Georgetown Hospitals, migrated to the United States in 1972. Bobb’s father had migrated to the United Kingdom.

In her eulogy, Pastor Morris said losing Bobb is “difficult, but we refused to ask God, because he knows everything.

“For us, as a family, it’s never going to be replaced,” she said. “He called her home (crying).

“Debbie, our hero,” Dr. Morris added. “She was my greatest supporter. Debbie believed in family. For my family, we’re going to get through this.”

Judith “Baffy” Cuffy leads United Vincie Cultural Group of Brooklyn in paying tribute with “In the Arms of Sweet Deliverance.” Photo by Nelson A. King

Dr. Morris said Bobb “loved netball and became very good at it, which earned her a place on the St. Vincent and the Grenadines National Netball Team and played at the Center and Wing Attack positions.”

She said she, Bobb and youngest sister, Dailene, often jogged from Campden Park to the Nutricia Netball Center in Kingstown to get to netball training on time.

Dr. Morris said Bobb played on the GHS Netball team (School), the Ricks’ Superstars team (Club), the Nyabhingi team (Village) and the SVG National team.

Dr. Morris said Bobb graduated from the St. Vincent Girls’ High School and began working at the Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce as a part-time employee.

Not very long after, she secured employment at the St. Vincent Children’s Wear as an accounts clerk, where she worked until her migration to the United States in 1990 to join her mother.

Dr. Morris said Bobb worked as a nanny, postal worker and retailer at Macy’s Department Store before securing employment at Verizon as an administrative assistant, “where she worked for the last 22 years up to the time of her demise.

“Debbie worked assiduously and exhibited excellent work ethics, personally and professionally,” Dr. Morris said. “She was punctual, completed her tasks on time and had a professional attitude.

“She was committed, dedicated, focused and strived to achieve upward mobility,” she added. “Debbie knew how to work independently but was also a great team player and always worked hard to produce quality work.”

Members of the UVCGB, of which Bobb was “instrumental” in forming, according to Dr. Morris, gave Bobb a rousing send-off with the heart-wrenching “In the Arms of Sweet Deliverance.”

In his Words of Comfort, Bishop Dr. David N. McDonald, the Jamaican-born senior pastor at First Community Triumphant Cathedral in Brooklyn, said: “God knows what he’s doing. God does not make mistakes.

“She (Bobb) has beaten us to Heaven,” he added. “We don’t understand all of God’s purposes, but we know he does all things well.”

Bobb was interred on Saturday at Pinelawn Cemetery in Farmingdale, Suffolk County, Long Is.

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