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Joseph Thomas Sr.

Joseph ‘Big Joe’ Oliver Thomas Sr., 84, entered into eternal peace on Thursday, May 22, 2014.

Joe was born of Anguillan descent in New York City on Dec. 19, 1929 to the late John and Amelia Thomas.
After serving in the military, he met and married his late wife Ellen in September 1954. The Thomas family settled in Westbury where Joe became employed with the U.S. Post Office.

Joe also became very active in his community. He founded the Westbury Drum and Bugle Corp, was a life member of the 369th Veterans Association, Inc., where he served as President of the Long Island branch, and was an active member of the Church of the Advent in Westbury where he served six years on the Vestry board. As active as Joe was with his family and his community, he was able to earn a Bachelor’s of Arts degree from State University of New York at Old Westbury.

Joe completed 38 years of service with the post office and he and Ellen retired to Spring Hill, Florida in 1986. There in Spring Hill, Joe co-founded and became the first president of the African American Club of Hernando, Inc., and also became a member of St. Andrew’s Episcopal Church, Spring Hill, Florida.

Joseph Sr. is survived and leaves his loving memories to be cherished by his five children, Joseph Jr., Tyrone (Needa), Penny, Deborah, and Tracy (Shirley). Three grandchildren, Robert Matthew, Nicole Joellen, and Tyrone Joseph. Several nieces and a nephew and many other family and friends.

A memorial service was held Monday, June 16 at 10 a.m. at St. Andrew’s Episcopal Church, Spring Hill, Florida.

Marvin Leon Johnson, Sr.

johnsonMarvin Leon Johnson, Sr., from the Westbury High School Class of 1984 was laid to rest on Saturday May 24, 2014. His service was held at the St. John’s Baptist Church, 1025 Prospect Avenue. The two day event, which included a wake service on Friday evening and funeral service on Saturday morning, was befitting of a local music legend and entertainer who made it to the mainstream. Many came through the doors of the church saddened by his passing but left smiling at what he had done. In life he was able to “move the crowd” and make them smile with the many memories shared by his friends and family.
Reverend Dr. William A. Watson Pastor of St. John’s Baptist Church spoke of Marvin’s good qualities and his compassion towards others. He was always willing to help whether he was asked or not. If someone from the community was in need he was going to help. Bishop Lionel Harvey of The First Baptist Cathedral spoke of the early morning exchanges Marvin and he shared and how Marvin loved his family and friends, and how he wanted the best for them and his community which he loved so dearly.
In his life he was known to the music world as “Kool Marv Dee”, “The Big Father Marv”, “The Bigga”, or his latest alter ego “Lord Taylor”. If you listen to hip hop music and grew up in Westbury/New Cassel you knew his legacy crossed many generations, from old to young. His true passion in life was to make the people smile and feel good through his music. He represented his hometown and neighborhood. Whereever he went, the people knew Westbury/New Cassel was on the scene and the Maplewood Crew was in the building. We have lost our headliner but the show must go on and we must carry his legacy on. Marvin Leon Johnson, Sr. we will smile and remember you. “Can’t Hide That Dragon Pride.”
— Robin L. Garrison Bolling

Ernest J. Turner Rapelyea

Sgt. Maj. Ernest J. Turner Rapelyea, a 1963 Westbury High School graduate and retired member of the U.S. Army, passed away at age 69 on Jan. 16, 2014 in Goose Creek, South Carolina.

Born in Washington, DC, he was the son of the late Charles and Deloise Rapelyea and husband to Linda Turner. After high school, he joined the United States Army and served for 30 years, retiring as a Sergeant Major. He served during Vietnam and was proud to be a paratrooper assigned to the 82nd Airborne Division. He worked as a truck driver and a contract monitor at the Charleston Air Force Base. He is survived by his wife, Linda Turner; two daughters, Yvonne Turner of Goose Creek and Nicole Turner of Charleston; granddaughter, Autumn Turner of Charleston; four brothers, Charles Rapelyea of Tampa, FL, Melvin Rapelyea of Betterton, MD, Brian Rapelyea of NY and Kevin Rapelyea of NY.