I had the tremendous good fortune of knowing Obie Wilchcombe from when he was 15 years old, when I became the senior school coordinator, guidance counsellor and teacher of French and English at Queen’s College, Nassau in 1972.
He always impressed me with his superior eloquence and attention to detail. He was always extremely specific about what he said and how he said it. From a very early age he knew what his profession would be – a tremendously powerful orator.
I had the privilege of being his guidance counselor for his final two years at Queen’s College. It was my task and privilege to prepare, by hand, all transcripts and recommendations for students planning university abroad or at home (back then there were no computers in schools and all had to be done by hand. We only had the ancient Gestetner machines).
Obie’s heart’s desire was to immediately become a reporter at ZNS, and I had the honor actually of accompanying him for his interview, as I did for all students who sought work immediately after high school.
From those early days and unto the present, Obie has always been a loyal and abiding friend. It was a continuation of a beautiful connection when he came down last Saturday to celebrate the going home of our beloved Richie Adderley, one of the most famous basketball players ever to grace this nation. After a previous call to almost depart this earth, Richie had more to contribute before the good Lord would call him home.
Obie has been my friend for so very long and it was a joy to meet with him when he came down last weekend to celebrate Richie’s life. They mirrored each other so very much: exceptionally dedicated to their profession and ready to give beyond measure.
As with Obie’s oratorical excellence, Richie had the invisible wings of an angel. When in possession of the ball, one never knew how he did it from close or afar, but that ball always found its way into the basket. He was called the Dealer, knowing every angle of the game.
It was such a joy to see Richie return back home after his basketball career and take up a position at Walter Parker Primary School. He was back in his realm of being a mighty giver and sharer of expert knowledge.
When I visited Richie so majestically lying in a coffin at the YMCA, he looked like he was like 18 years old with a beard and I almost said to him, “Richie arise man! Stop pretending you’re dead. We need you.”
But we know it is for very good reasons that people pass over, and maybe for a particular purpose on the other side of the veil.
It’s the same thing with our brother Obie. It was our great privilege to nurture and give guidance to Richie and to Obie, who acknowledged the role my mentoring played in his life at Queens College. Thus, when he walked into the church last Saturday, he came right over and gave us his usual “bear hug”.
But alas, Richie and Obie – the passing over would not end there, for between the two, a magnificent young lady was called home. Our dear and celebrated reporter at ZNS, Nathalee Martinborugh.
There was something always so heavenly about Nathalee. The graciousness about here was magnetic. When there were any environmental concerns or matters affecting women and children, she would always call me to be interviewed. And passing by her office, she would stand and give me a good Long Island hug.
Thus, a trinity of departures. Three incredibly beautiful people passing over so close together.
It has really been difficult for me to get my mind and heart around this, especially with such young people. The old saying, “The good die young”, rings so forcefully now. Guess we old ones need to hang around to attain goodness?
But as I contemplated on their passing, something dawned on me. With the multitude of persons, many very young, passing over recently due to famine, floods, earthquakes, fires, etc., these three magnificent beings, each one had a function back on the other side of the veil into heaven and I could only say that they must now be teaching all these new angels going back into the heavenly abode, teaching them how to fly like Richie, how to discourse like Obie, with his eloquence and memory.
You know, I’ve seen him stand up and talk for 20 or 25 minutes and never had a single note from which to read. Everything was so crystallized in his mind, and his wisdom, combined with knowledge, brought incredible knowingness.
Whatever he said he said directly, not just from the heart but from the soul, from that infinite ever abiding intelligence and wisdom within him.
He was a wise young man. He had the wisdom of Solomon: The one and only thing that Solomon asked for, knowing he had all that he needed; but he asked for wisdom.
That broad, beautiful smile and radiant presence, in West End, and then the next evening, Sunday, he spoke with a ladies’ group in Freeport, crossing over the very next morning.
My dear brother Obie, I love you dearly.
You have validated so much that I treasured in you from way back from when you were 15 or 16 years old. But your spirit remained with us in a joyful celebration of the life that you had.
It was not cut short; it was designed by you and your Creator to go back at this time because you are going to teach all of those ones ready to be born, coming back on this side of the veil, how to be the incredible forceful, wise, and incredible heart-felt orators on this side.
We love and cherish and honor you three newly established residents in the heavenly abode!
— Joseph Darville