By RON FANFAIR
Popular and well-liked calypsonian, Peter “Sailor” Stafford, passed away recently in Grenada.
At his request, the 59-year-old longtime Kitchener resident returned to the land of his birth 15 days before he succumbed to cancer on Caribana Saturday (July 31). He had planned, following retirement, to return permanently to settle in a home he built in neighbouring Carriacou.
The calypso fraternity in the Greater Toronto Area is saddened by the loss of Stafford, who appeared in several Organization of Calypso Performing Artists (OCPA) competitions. He reached the finals on several occasions, including 2002 when he and his brother, Verdon “Clipper” Stafford, appeared in the competition together for the first and only time. Clipper was bounced in the semi-finals.
Grenadian-born Michael “Redman” Thomas, the runner-up in this year’s calypso competition, said Stafford was his mentor.
“When I came to Canada about 21 years ago, he was one of the people that took me under his wing,” recalled Thomas, who left here last Tuesday for England to make guest appearances in this year’s Notting Hill Carnival on August 29 and 30. “He and Dynasty (Alfred Caton) were my homeboys and we formed a bond. Peter always had a good word for you, he was quick to smile and he never said a bad thing about a judge’s decision. He just took everything in stride.”
Fellow calypsonian Dick Lochan remembered Stafford as being humble and very pleasant.
“He also had his own unique style and dance,” said Lochan.
Stafford performed for the Caribbean Carnival International Group, Three Seasons and Kaiso Forum.
In addition to being a calypsonian, Stafford was civic-minded. When Hurricane Ivan struck Grenada six years ago, he organized relief help through his Canadian Auto Workers Local 1451.
Four-time local calypso champion Bryan “Structure” Thornhill represented OCPA at Stafford’s funeral in Carriacou.
Stafford is survived by his wife Lucita and children Geraldine, Lorraine Stafford-Valentine and Peter Junior, who live in Canada.