While the two children of murdered teacher Suzette “Suzy” Sylvester wept and consoled each other at the funeral on Friday, her mourners’ outpouring of love and tributes brought them laughter.
Past and present co-workers and students, relatives and residents shared fond memories.
Sylvester’s husband, Kurt Sylvester, 48, did not attend, as he was expected to face a Couva magistrate on Friday charged with her murder.
On Thursday evening, Director of Public Prosecutions Roger Gaspard, SC, advised police to charge Sylvester, a bank worker, after reviewing a file submitted by legal officer PC Kyrn Lewis. Insp Rebeiro of the Homicide Bureau Region III supervised investigations and WPC Ransome laid the charge.
The accused gave himself up at the Chaguanas police station at around 6.20 am on Monday.
The 48-year-old mother of two lived at Mowlah Trace Extension in Preysal, Couva. She was bludgeoned to death with a hammer before dawn on Monday at her home.
On Friday, a police release said relatives found her body wrapped in a green and white bedsheet, with blood in the area of her head and on the floor in a bedroom.
At the funeral, Sylvester’s two children, Sesha and Michael, sat near Sylvester's mother and close to the casket, listening to tributes.
Angus Marryshow, a vice principal at the El Dorado West Secondary School, described Sylvester as a remarkable woman, a phenomenal educator, and a motherly figure. He recalled that she participated in school life, forming the fabric of the school.
Sharing sentiments from the language department, Marryshow said laughter was infectious. She was always surrounded by her students, which was her trademark.
Sylvester’s daughter nodded in approval.
Marryshow said Sylvester’s genuine love help students helped them to excel.
“We are blessed to have been privileged to be in her presence. I pray that each of us we can look beyond the evil and look deep within,” he said.
He encouraged mourners to overcome evil by doing good.
Sylvester began teaching English and English literature at Preysal Secondary School in 2016, after teaching at the El Dorado West Secondary School for 15 years. El Dorado West Secondary alumni paid tribute by singing and dancing.
A representative from Preysal Secondary School said he was there on behalf of students and staff, both past and present. News of the death “rocked everyone”, he said, considering Sylvester touched the lives of all.
“She was full of energy, laughter and love. Suzette will be missed. I do not know if anyone can fill her void,” he said.
Assistant Pastor Charles Sukal, of Jesus is the Answer Praise Centre, officiated.
Without mentioning a name, Sukal prayed “for the one who committed this heinous crime.”
“To have a shadow, you must have a light, and that light is Jesus. He is the God of all comfort. He will give hope. This heinous crime is wreaking havoc in the community and the country,” Sukal said. “This is a troubling time for the family. They can only find comfort in God.”
He warned about people who pledge to be caring and loving, but could cause tragedy.
“The same dog you are patting today could bite you tomorrow,” he said.
Sukal called on people to stand up against violence against women.
“We are in an age when people see troubles, they want to record it. Render help, when you see and hear things happening,” Sukal said. “Do not say. 'It is not my business.' Say something, do something.”
One of Sylvester’s past students said there had been plans “to wheel her on a plane and take her on a trip” after she retired.
Several past and present students threw picong at each other, claiming to be her favourite student or from her favourite class.
One mourner prayed for God to rid the community and country of evil and all forms of violence and crime.
As Celine Dion’s classic song Goodbye’s (the Saddest Word) repeatedly played from a speaker, her weeping daughter stood over the casket, gazing and videotaping the body.
Sylvester was cremated at Belgrove's Funeral Home in San Fernando.