Caribbean ‘cultural warrior’ Michael Roger Young Lao passes at 73 – Carib Vibe Radio

Caribbean ‘cultural warrior’ Michael Roger Young Lao passes at 73

Michael Roger Young Lao – considered a “Caribbean cultural warrior” and board member of the Brooklyn-based West Indian-American Day Carnival Association (WIADCA), organizer of arguably the largest Caribbean carnival and parade in North America – died on Saturday, Feb. 17 family members said. He was 73.

His wife, Yolanda Lezama-Clark Young Lao, the daughter of the late WIADCA founder and former president, Carlos Lezama, told Caribbean Life on Tuesday, Feb. 20 that Young Lao died at his home in Roystonia, Couva, Trinidad and Tobago.

Mrs. Lezama-Clarke Young Lao, also a former WIADCA president, said her husband was a WIADCA member for more than 30 years and a board member up to his death.

She also said Young Lao was a founding board member of the Brooklyn-based Carlos Lezama Archives and Caribbean Cultural Center (CLACC-C), named in honor of her father, whose mission is “to educate communities on Caribbean heritage, promote and preserve cultural arts and history through its archive center.”

“Michael’s contributions, among many, have been to introduce all technical aspects of live streaming and digital archiving to both organizations, where he enjoyed working feverishly behind the scenes,” Mrs. Lezama-Clarke Young Lao said.

“After his retirement, he returned back to his homeland of Trinidad (and Tobago), where he spent his days among loved ones, enjoying the island that he loved so dearly,” she added.

“Devastation and a sense of emptiness,” continued Lezama-Clarke Young Lao, when asked about her feelings on her husband’s passing. “Words cannot express how I feel at this time.

“He was a true giant in my life,” she said. “Many of his creative ideas that were implemented in both WIADCA and CLACC-C were from him. He was my rock and support. My true best friend and love of my life. I will miss him.”

In addition, Lezama-Clarke Young Lao said her husband, who was born on Sept. 8, 1950, was “a dedicated husband and father of seven young adults and mentor to many.”

As an avid reader, she said Young Lao’s favorite quote was from slain civil rights activist Malcolm X: “The future belongs to those who prepare for it today.”

WIADCA said in a statement on Monday: “It is with deep sorrow that we announce the transition of our Board Member Michael Young Lao and longtime member of WIADCA, serving on our Entertainment and Production committees.

“Our condolences and prayers go out to his family and friends,” it said. “We will miss his voice and commitment to the organization and our Caribbean community.”

The obituary states that Young Lao was born and raised in San Fernando, Trinidad and Tobago, to Commoy Lai Choy and Ethelbert Young Lao.

“An ASJA Boys College Alum, he was a visionary and serial entrepreneur, as well as telecommunications professional, who began and tenured his career at Trinidad and Tobago Telephone Company Limited,” it says.

The obituary says Young Lao migrated to the United States during the 1990s, where he continued his career in information technology/telecom.

“Throughout his working years in the Tri-State area, he excelled in his position as communications manager until retirement,” it says.

Lezama-Clarke Young Lao said the Memorial Service was expected to be held on Wednesday at Atherley’s by the Park Restaurant & Lounge, Prince Charles Street, San Fernando, Trinidad and Tobago.

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