Cynthia Amelia Reece was born on May 20, 1935 at Port of Spain Hospital, Trinidad. She was the eldest of nine children born to the late Mabel Reece (nee Bennett) of Tobago and Gladstone Reece of Barbados. The family lived on Observatory Street in Port of Spain before moving to Flamingo Street in Morvant when she was four years old. She attended Roman Catholic schools before transferring to an Anglican school. Following primary school, she went on to learn a trade, sewing, and took classes at a pastry school. She obtained her first job at New Yorker Shirt Factory and then switched to Glamour Girl Factory.
In 1962, Cynthia and one of her sisters moved to Extension Road in Mon Repose. Cynthia met the love of her life, Rudolph Manuel, a prison corrections officer. The couple had their first son, Keith Manuel, in 1964 and Cynthia moved to the Manuel family home on Old Road in Santa Cruz. The couple saved up and bought their own home at Dempsey Gardens in Tacarigua in 1974. The following year, she gave birth to their second son, Kevon Manuel. Only a few months after Kevon’s birth, Rudolph died on December 16, 1975.
Heartbroken and alone with a young son and a baby, she returned to her family’s home in Morvant in 1976. Still mourning the loss of her beloved, she immigrated to New York, USA the following year (1977) to recover from the grief and find better job opportunities to provide for her boys. She changed career paths and graduated from Medical Aid Training Schools as a nursing assistant and a home health aide with a license valid in New York State, Washington DC, Florida and Illinois. She began her medical career working private duty cases for agencies until procuring a job at Gouverneur Hospital in Manhattan in 1989. She continued training in the medical field receiving future certificates and recognition at that facility until her retirement in 2000.
Cynthia, “Miss Reece” as she was commonly called, never gave up her passion for baking and cooking. Anyone who visited her home on East 29th Street and Beverly Road in Brooklyn can attest to the fact that she was always in her kitchen whipping up some savory international dish and persuading them to eat before they left – whether they were hungry or not. She completed many culinary courses in pastry, cake baking, cake decorating, catering, and gourmet cooking from several institutes including New York Food and Hotel Management School, Chocolate Gallery NYC, and International Correspondence Schools.
Apart from being a chef, her other passion was being a mother. She tirelessly worked toward being permanently reunited with her boys. Keith emigrated in 1985 and Kevon in 1989. She was also a member of the Mother’s Union at St. Augustine’s Episcopal Church since 2005.
Cynthia is survived by her sons, Keith and Kevon; grandsons, Jerome and Kevin; great-granddaughter, Naomi; siblings, Eileen, Aldwyn, Carol, Jocelyn, and Glenford (CT); daughter-in-law, Marsha; nieces and nephews, Curtis, Radcliffe (John), Alan, Gail, Dale, Deon, Steve, Amelia, Carla (Joanna), and Jezreel; loving in-laws, Barbara, Lima, Leroy, and Joan; and devoted family friend, Annette. She was preceded in death by her life partner, Rudolph; siblings, Edmund (Eddie), Kenneth (Johnny), Carl (Joe); nephew, Carlyle; and brother-in-law, Fitzroy.
Miss Reece will be missed. May her soul rest in peace.
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