NEW YORK (JIS), Tuesday, January 23, 2007 – The late Dr. Wilfred George Gooden, OD., was last week eulogized as a Civil Rights Activist for this lifelong devotion to the betterment of humankind both in his native Jamaica and the USA.
Scores of elected officials from the US Federal, State and City government, the Diplomatic Corp as well as government officials from Jamaica, turned out to pay their last respects at the memorial service celebrating the life of the beloved 85 years old, real estate developer and philanthropist at the Ephesus Seventh-Day Adventist Church in Harlem, NY, on Sunday, January 21, 2007.
Dr. Gooden reportedly died of a heart attack on Saturday, January 6, 2007, while visiting Jamaica.
US Congresswoman Sheila Jackson-Lee, (D-Texas), in her remembrance, likened the late Dr. Gooden to Civil Rights Leader, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., for his advocacy and outreach for better housing conditions for New Yorkers.
Moving from Westmoreland, Jamaica to the USA in 1945, Dr. Gooden founded a general contracting company with a strong focus on real estate development. As owner/builder of multiple housing units, the late Dr. Gooden renovated groups of old tenement buildings into 2-3 bedroom, modern Class A apartments across New York City and State.
For such sterling foresight and vision, he was later rewarded with an appointment by then NYC Mayor David Dinkins as a consultant to the powerful NYC Housing Authority, working closely with then housing administrator Roger Starr.
Despite his enormous influence, Dr. Gooden was remembered as a humble man who dined often with the ‘kings’ of the city and state but never lost the common touch.
“Wilfred Gooden’s life was to help others achieve and young people in particular to reach their dreams. He gave generously of his time and money to numerous causes. He was indeed a philanthropist,” noted Dr. Basil K. Bryan, Consul General of Jamaica, who led a procession of dignitaries that included MP Edmund Bartlett (Jamaica), in tributes to the late Dr. Gooden.
His more than six decades of work has been recognized from the White House to Jamaica House with lofty citations from former US President William ‘Bill’ Clinton, former Jamaican Prime Ministers Edward Seaga, Michael Manley and P.J. Patterson.
In 1996, he was recognized by Message Magazine as an outstanding humanitarian for services to his community and country through is membership and affiliation with a number of charitable organizations and associations including the NYCHA, Foundation for International Self Help (FISH), The American Friends of Jamaica (AFJ), Concerned Committee for Christian Education (CCCE) and the National Association of Jamaican and Supportive Organizations (NAJASO).
A decade earlier (1986), he was honoured by the government of Jamaica with the Order of Distinction (OD). Through Dr. Gooden’s generosity, scores of Jamaican students studying overseas were assured of tuition, housing and other assistance as it is said that he wanted to ensure that all Jamaican youth had a chance to succeed and in so doing be able to fly the Jamaican flag high and be able to make a meaningful contribution to society. He was conferred with the Honorary Degree of Doctor of Letters by the Faith Grant College in Birmingham, Alabama.
Dr. Wilfred George Gooden, OD, Ph.D (Hon), is survived by wife Sybil and brother Vibert (Georgia).