(January 9th, 2019)
Paul: “Let me hear joy and gladness; let the bones you have crushed rejoice.” (Psalm 51:8)
Rev. Father, family members, friends and associates; all love ones of our deceased brother, Joseph Edmund Sampson Jr.
In this holy place this evening, we join hearts to celebrate the life of the man endearingly known to us by many names; Jun-Jun, Joey, Joe, Sam, Daddy, Grampa, Mr. Sam or Mr. Sampson, Sir, and judging from the multitude of persons he freely associated himself with, there must have been other names. To us, he is Uncle Joe, not because he is literally my uncle, but because he has earned that permanent honor within our family. Uncle Joe was more than a brother-in-law. He was my brother and as a youth, he was my mentor. And let me safely declare that he was a genuine brother to all of us in the family.
In retrospect, we who know Uncle Joe will easily agree that he lived a colorful life; one in which there was never a dull moment. His life was full of vigor and vitality, adventure and courage, creativity and fun. He overcame any and all challenges that impeded his sense of life. He did not let life just happen to him, he lived his life. But central to his sensational life was God and service to those he found in need.
CYL: Reflecting on his life, his wife Lorna, my aunt and children Dawn and Donald, my cousins, describe him as determined; determined to do good by all; self-sacrificing, as he put the wellbeing of others before his own so many times, even if it meant that he found himself in trouble for others; and forgiving as his focus was on enjoying life and the short time we have on this earth.
His sister Rose submitted that “He made sure he had a relationship with all his family members. He was family oriented.”
His niece Desiree said: “my uncle Joe was passionate about education. Due to that passion he assisted all his nieces and nephews in obtaining an education. Nothing was too much for him to give when it came to education.”
His baby sister Gloria commented: “my brother loved to eat. Once, I asked him if he was hungry and he said , “no Glo, but ah wa eat before ah get hungry.” Glo continued; “I will forever remember his last words to me on New year’s Eve , he said, “ Glo, ah Gwen ah wa come back.”
His niece Stacey said of him: “My uncle jun jun was kind , jovial and sociable. I could have depended on him to get anything done for me. No manner how busy he was, he found time to do business for his family. He would even volunteer to assist you if you had an issue. He was very positive. He often offered encouraging words to us. It was always a pleasure to be around him. I will surely miss him.”
And finally, a close family friend encapsulated it all by saying: “Joe was even tempered and loved by many”
Paul: I had the privilege of first meeting Uncle Joe when I was just a kid of about 10 or 11 years old. He was about 16 or 17 I believe. That meeting took place while I was a priest celebrating mass. Well, let me clarify that. Remember I was only about 10, but I had convinced myself that I was a priest and had all rights to celebrate mass underneath my home in Punta Gorda. And yes at age 10, I knew every part of the mass, including all the low utterances of the priest which are prayers not meant for the congregation to hear. The words that I really did not know for sure, I simply made up. And yes we had soda biscuit communion and we did take collection which netted mostly small stones from my youthful penniless congregation.
So I think it was during an Easter holiday while I was saying mass, that this huge dusty guy with a white towel around his neck, crossed into my yard and into my mass space. I think he recognized the mass setting and he held his reverence. I appreciated that. It was collection time so he appropriately sat down. Of course we had ample seating since it was all on the ground. Well that one day, while my collection netted the usual pebbles from my congregation, I surely got a big donation from my new parishioner. His offering was a shilling, twenty five cents. Since then, I knew he was special and that is where our relationship began. Of course I must tell you that the twenty five cents bought my entire congregation enough melcoche candy and I was even left with some pocket change.
That day, our usual after mass boxing match was lively, thanks to the sugar rush. But the benevolent stranger did not stay with us. He had disappeared upstairs. It was much later on I found out that this big guy was not only there for my well recited mass but he had, should I say, other motivations.
As time marched on, I would often encounter this big guy then known to me as Joe Sampson, at his home while I was on school vacations here in Dangriga. I recall playing bat and ricket under his organization, near the water tower in front of his home.
As we grew older, I believe by then I must have been 12 and 13 years old, I began spending summer vacations in Belize City. Joe was attending SJC Sixth Form. He would invite me to work with him on his many jobs. He and I made a great work team. We would be out at 4:00 am. (that is in the morning), to sweep the Muscle street drain in Belize city. For that task together we would earn $35 per week. That was the weekly salary of a grown man maintaining a family in Belize City at the time. That task ended at 6 am, and then we were off to the south side of town to chop grass or dig drains on a task basis, again for the city council. We would complete our task by 8 am. But before we would leave the site, Joe would insist that we help an old man who always struggled, to finish his task. We never got a reward from that man, but we kept helping him on a daily basis. We would leave that scene by 8:30 am, having earned a second $35 dollars per week.
After having breakfast, we would proceed to either do billboard sign washing, school painting at Palotti High School or bottle washing at the Pepsi factory. Though we sometimes had to use some; should I say, creative arithmetic to justify the number of bottles we truly washed, we would easily earn another $50 per week at that job. In the evenings from 6 to 11 pm, I would end my day working at the Charger Beer factory as a line inspector. From that job I would bring home 3 – 4 unpasteurized beers each night, since I knew my brother Hervan, and Joe would be patiently waiting for their night cap. From that job we netted $25 per week.
Saturday’s weekend payday was great! We made sure to be at the City Council’s Pound Yard compound early to receive our pay. I can still hear the supervisor calling out the workers. He would call “Scavengers, South side, and among other names would be J. Sampson, and then drain diggers, north side, J. Sampson again would be called. Never mind the name scavengers and drain diggers. All the other men would be commenting with jealousy that Joe was earning 2 men’s pay at once. And when we combined our loot for the week, we were looking at real teamwork. Between us two, we were hauling pay worthy for 5 men. No wonder my dear sister, his future wife, was especially happy to see us on Saturday afternoons, even with our dirty rubber boots. Mein we had fun! But we always remembered church on Sunday.
And then a year or two went by, and lo and behold, Joe married my sister Lorna! That is why I will never apply for a watchman’s job. Unce Joe proved that Watchman was not my calling.
I know that Uncle Joe would appreciate me at this time thanking some key people to whom he has always been grateful for their role in seeing him through during those sixth form days in Belize city. In this regard I mention Joyce and Herbert Gentle who provided Joe with lodging. I also wish to mention Brother Loyd ?? of the Baptist church in Belize City, who provided him with temporary housing.
So in the interest of time we must now give you a snapshot of Uncle Joe’s colorful life.
CYL: Joseph Edmund Sampson Jr., Uncle Joe, was born on September 13, 1955, the second child of Joseph Sampson Sr. and Inez Sampson both deceased. He was also pre-deceased by his brother, Wilfred.
Uncle Joe was reared in Dangriga. He Graduated from Sacred Heart Primary School and Stann Creek High School. He then earned a Government Scholarship to attend St. Johns 6th Form in Belize City. The fruit of sixth form was another scholarship. This time an open scholarship to the University of the West Indies, Jamaica, where he obtained a Bachelors and Master’s degree in History.
In 1975 he married my aunt, Lorna Morgan-Sampson. Their marriage bore two wonderful children, Dawn Sampson- Nunez and Donald Sampson.
Uncle Joe was an educator. He taught at Claver College Punta Gorda, St. John’s College Evening Division, University of Belize, Ecumenical College, Julian Cho Technical High School, St. Catherine’s Academy, Galen University, Holy Childhood High School and Holy Childhood 6th Form in Jamaica and Tutored at University of the West Indies, Mona Campus. He also served as a resource person to correct CXC papers.
Uncle Joe was an author. His latest book entitled A BELIZEAN DAWN forms part of his legacy in which he chronicled his struggles with mental illness in his early young life; a struggle which demonstrated his resilience, strength and determination. This is a struggle that thought our family not to give up even in the face of the most daunting challenges in life.
Uncle Joe was a community leader, and a politician who served as Mayor of Dangriga. For a few years he also served as the Neighborhood Watch Coordinator for the Police Department.
Channel 5 in Belize city will miss his election commentary in future elections. Uncle Joe also had his input as a facilitator in the ICJ discussion that is engulfing Belize as we speak.
He is a Great father who, along with his wife, ensured that his children were reared well and given a solid educational foundation. His grandchildren were his world. – Saturday mornings he made sure to take them on walks to BTL park.
This Christmas he told his family on Christmas Day that this was the happiest Christmas of his life. So he died happy and at peace.
Paul: Sunset came for Uncle Joe at age 63, on January 3rd, 2019. A life worth living.
Brothers and sisters, a great report in a eulogy does not suggest perfection but then again, show me a perfect man and I will show you God made man, only in our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.
CYL: He is survived by his wife – Lorna Sampson; children – Dawn Nunez, and Donald Sampson; daughter in-law- Carolyn Sampson, son in-law- Ralph Nunez Jr.; grandchildren – Diroune Sampson, Keema Centeno, Kayan Sampson, Kauvan Sampson, Donald Sampson Jr. Laila Nunez, Kayla Nunez, and Ymari Sampson; Sisters – Cynthia Sampson, Rose Sampson, Lorain Sampson, Gloria Sampson; Brothers – Nelson Lambert, Robert Petillo, William Sampson, Stephen Sampson, James Sampson, and Vincent Sampson, nieces, nephews and a host of other relatives and friends.
Paul: When his story is told brothers and sisters, it will be said that Joseph Edmund Sampson Jr. lived, loved and served. He won and he lost. He was Noble in victory and humble in defeat. We were all blessed by his life. Let us pray that his soul remains happy in the presence of his savior. We shall meet him again in the life of the world to come.
May Uncle Joe’s soul rest in Peace.