Today I wanted to take a moment to honor the legacy of a man that meant so much to me, my grandfather. Four years ago today my family lost “Papa Jean” to cancer. My grandfather was a man of many core values including believing firmly in eating healthy, physical fitness, and walking the Rosary every morning. This was a formula, he believed, was the key to helping him live to his goal of 100 years. He was close as we lost him only a few weeks shy of his 97th birthday.
As I child I remember being so in awe of Papa Jean. I understood that he was the bedrock of our family, someone that every one looked up to and respected. He had such a love for life and a sense of humor that carried into his tender years. He loved to tell a good joke or recount a funny story. He also enjoyed serving my grandmother her coffee every morning for 68 years. I remember how much dancing brought him a lot of joy and big smiles. Even in his final years you could find my grandfather on the dance floor. He would grab my grandmother or a great-granddaughter onto the floor and you could just see the sparkle that life brought to his eye.
My grandfather was also an accomplished man. A firm believer in education and working hard. He led a very successful career in banking at a time when Haiti was considered the crown jewel of the Caribbean. In 1960, he was appointed to serve as the Executive Director of the National Port Authority of Haiti. The Port Authority expanded significantly under his administration and as a result of his diligent work, Haiti was soon recognized as a vital link to marine import/export and tourism between Central, North, and South America. After he resigned from his role in public office, he received an honorary distinction as the Harbor Master of the Port of New Orleans. He later represented Haiti at the United Nations.
Although he led a very successful career, his most valued accomplishment was his ever growing family tree. He had eight children, 22 grand-children, and 19 great-grands.Though he is gone today, his legacy lives on in all of us. We miss you dearly Papa Jean.