Everything Related to the Steelpan Instrument and Music
April 21, 1934
Belmont, Trinidad West Indies
November 14, 2021
Barrie, Ontario, Canada
Passed away after a brief illness at the Royal Victoria Hospital Palliative Unit. He spent his last days in comfort with his family by his side. He had been diagnosed with Alzheimer's Disease in 2013, and was living at home with his loving family until July 2021, at which time he became a resident at the Coleman Care Centre in Barrie.
Russell migrated to Oshawa, Ontario Canada in 1970.
His love of life was expressed in the activities he did and the various cross-sections of people in his life. He made a career in Healthcare, becoming one of 16 paramedics specially certified to be the first to provide Advanced Life Support and pre-hospital Advanced Cardiac Care through the pilot project via the Oshawa Ambulance service in 1979. He retired in 1994.
In 1982, he made a proposal to the Govt of Trinidad & Tobago to offer his services and to train Emergency Services and airline personnel in the basics of Emergency First Aid and CPR. He held the positions of Instructor and Chief Examiner for First Aid and CPR with the Red Cross and St John's Ambulance.
He became a participatory citizen of the City of Oshawa, having served on the Executive of the Oshawa Folk Arts Council and the Oshawa Club Carib. He was involved in producing floats for the city, special events, and was Chairperson for the Fiesta Week and Santa Claus Parades'.
His greatest passion in life was that of a Mas Band Producer. He is known in Trinidad as well as in the Caribbean community for his lifetime contribution to the Trinidad Carnival and the Toronto Carnival (formerly known as Caribana) of which he served as the Parade Chairperson. His involvement in "Masquerade" or "Mas" created many "firsts" for which he shall always be remembered in both Carnival communities. The greatest story is his portrayal of Gullivers Travels in 1963, where he produced a giant Gulliver with the life-sized masqueraders as the Lilliputs.
This attributed to his win of "Band of the Year" and "People's Choice Award" in 1963 and made history for the Silver Stars Steel Orchestra as the first Steelband to ever earn this coveted title. Two of the costumes from his 1979 Caribana win as Band of the Year were obtained and are on display by the Smithsonian Institute in Washington D.C. The costumes were on display during the Papal Visit of Pope John Paul II in 1980.
In the latter years of his life he was finally recognized for some of his contributions:
2008 - Recognition with the Trinidad Silver Stars Steel Orchestra on their 60th anniversary for producing the first Steelband in the Trinidad Carnival to win the prestigious "Band of the Year" and "People's Choice Award" in 1963.
2012 - One of Russell's most notable awards was to be the recipient of the Queen Diamond Jubilee Medal in Oshawa, ON.
2013 - "Honoured Guest" at the reception in recognition of a visit to Canada by the Prime Minister of Trinidad and Tobago, The Honourable Kamla Persad-Bissessar, and then Prime Minister of Canada, The Right Honorable Stephen Harper.
2014 - Toronto Carnival Gala-Recognition and awardee as a key contributor to the Toronto Carnival.
Russell was predeceased by his mother Edna de Rose, stepfather Mr. de Rose, and Edgar Leiba Jr. Beloved husband of Jeanette "Jan"; Cherished father of Karen (Gary Sharma), dearest uncle of Cristel, Trisha, and Sonja de Silva, proud grand-father of Therese, Christian and Marc Ahyee, and much loved brother of Annette de Silva.
Related to the Jardine, Leiba, Gillezeau, Legendre and Cavallo families. Will be greatly missed by many nieces, nephews, Godchildren, friends in Trinidad and abroad, the Durham Paramedics who were a great part of his world, as well as the many musicians who frequented our home in his latter years.
In lieu of flowers, donations in his memory may be made to the Alzheimer's Society and the Heart and Stroke Foundation.
His desire was to be cremated and for his ashes be returned to Trinidad. A Celebration of Life is being planned for the Spring of 2022 in Oshawa ,ON. Details to be announced at later date.
Special thanks to Dr. Ian Cohen of the Toronto Memory Program, Dr. Niti Sharma, The VON Day Program - Barrie, the Coleman Care Centre, Barrie, Dr. Jacky Chung Kit Lai and the Palliative Care Unit at the Royal Victoria Hospital in Barrie.
Sincere appreciation to Adams Funeral Home, Barrie. Messages of condolence may be forwarded to the family through adamsfuneralhome.ca