By Lincoln DePradine
Former Toronto police officer, Barbados-born Keith Forde, and Grenadian Dunstan Phillip, fashioned a friendship that lasted to the very last day of Phillip’s life.
“We forged a brotherhood second to none,’’ Forde said last Saturday, while delivering remarks at a funeral for Phillip.
A former Grenada schoolteacher, Phillip died July 26 at a Toronto hospital. He was 70.
Phillip, also an ex-member of the Jaycees of Grenada, as well as of the cadet corps and the Grenada Police Boys’ Club, worked with the Toronto Transit Commission and in the insurance business. He also was a member and supporter of several Grenada groups in Toronto including the Grenada Association, the Boca Toronto Support Group (BTSG), the Grenada Day Cultural Association, and Grenada Disaster Preparedness Toronto.
“He was always willing and ready to assist,’’ said BTSG president Jerry Ross, who recalled Phillip’s “calm demeanour’’.
Ross described Phillip as a friend and comrade, and reflected on Phillip captaining the football and cricket teams in their Grenada hometown village of Boca.
“We lost a stalwart in our community,’’ Grenada Association vice-president Aaron George, said in a tribute on the association’s behalf.
Forde, a former deputy police chief, drove Phillip – “a personal friend and an exceptional person’’ – to the hospital, where he was taken for surgery. It was the last time Forde saw him alive.
“Dunstan was a wonderful man in every respect,’’ said Forde, who retired from the Toronto Police Service in 2010. “He only addressed me as Fordie.’’
Forde and Phillip met years ago at the Church of the Nativity in Malvern and the two discussed many topics, including their common love of cricket.
Phillip was “witty’’, possessed an “analytical mind’’, as well as a “strong faith in God’’, and an “exceptional ability to listen’’, said Forde.
Phillip made a “lifetime contribution to Canada and Grenada’’ and he provided “many wonderful memories which we would cherish’’, Forde said.
“Grenada remained the foundation of who he was’’, said Forde, adding that with Phillip, there was “no distance between what he said, what he did and how he conducted himself’’.
Leroy Benjamin of the Malvern Monday Nighters Club described Phillip as “a terrific athlete’’, who was nicknamed “Pele’’ for his soccer-playing talent.
Phillip also adopted the sobriquet, “Mighty Smartie’’, when he “attempted a career in the calypso business’’ in Grenada, Lance Garraway said in his tribute.
Garraway, Phillip’s brother-in-law, studied with him at the Grenada Teachers’ College, where Phillip was recognized for his “leadership skills’’.
“Unwavering service and dedication’’ were also hallmarks of Phillip’s life, Garraway said.
Theodore Blaize, Grenada’s Honourary Consul in Montreal, and outgoing Consul General in Toronto, Derrick James, both highlighted Phillip’s contributions to his countrymen and women.
“If you wanted something for Grenada, that’s the guy to go,’’ said Blaize, who travelled from Montreal to Toronto for Phillip’s service at Global Kingdom Ministry. “We are all going to miss him.’’
James, who was the top diplomat in Toronto since 2016, and previously served as consul general in New York, recently returned to Grenada, where he heads the Office of Diaspora Affairs.
Phillip was “a brother and not just a good family member but also a good community human being’’, James said in an interview from St George’s, the Grenada capital.
“He always sacrificed the interests of the collective over the interests of himself. Whether he was in Grenada or whether in Toronto, he always provided the necessary support for the community,’’ said James. “He was an anchor for us, as a community, in Toronto. He will be greatly missed by all of us.’’
James extended condolences to Phillip’s wife, Sharon, and the rest of the family. “I will be there for them in the coming months and years,’’ he promised.
Among Phillip’s other surviving family members are his sons Nigel and Joel; grandson Daniel; and several brothers and sisters.
Nigel, the elder of the two sons, said his father continuously reinforced the idea of living up “to a higher standard’’ that includes morality, being kind and doing “the right thing’’.
His father, he said, was “a constant example of how to be a good person through action and words’’.
His dad’s death is “difficult to bear’’, Phillip admitted. However, since his passing, Phillip said he has learnt that his dad was “not only a good father but he was a great man’’, who “leaves behind his legacy’’.