​Vincent Smith O’Connor

​Vincent Smith O’Connor

10-13-1925 - 06-09-2023


Sunrise                                                                                Sunset
October 13, 1925                                                            June 9, 2023

Funeral Service
Tuesday, June 20, 2023—10:00AM
Christ Temple
17 West 128th Street
New York, New York 10027

Vincent Smith O’Connor, was born in Cuba, de Isle of Pines to Robert Smith and Renetta O’Connor on October 13, 1925. He was the only boy of 5 children that survived, as they lost one son a few years later.

Being the only boy in the household, his father and uncles relied on him to work on the family farm, until the Castro regime. The Smith family then migrated to Jamaica, WI (his parents' original birthplace). Shortly after, he became a father to his first born, Murdina; but Vincent didn’t stay for long. He returned to Cuba to work as a Merchant Marine.

While working at the port he took a job on a ship, setting sail to Germany, it was not his intention to go but decided to cover for another shipmate that couldn’t take the trip. Unsure of what his next steps would be once arriving  to Germany, he saw the trip as an opportunity; with hopes of eventually going to the United States. In 1962, he came to the US and started working in the garment industry as a Shipping Clerk at Robert Hall in addition to taking a second job with the New York Times’ Distribution Dept. He stabilized his career mainly in the garment industry and other various companies, until he retired in 1991 from Lord West/Pierre Cardin mens suiting.

From a young age, Vincent loved swimming, during one of his many sea escapes he had a near death experience and almost drowned. During that terrifying experience, he promised God that if he could be saved he would devote and give his life to the Lord. One of his friends saw him going under and saved his life, he never forgot his promise to God and was baptized in 1946, where he started his journey with being a man of God.

Through the years he continued to send helpful resources like financial aid, clothing and/or other staples to his family back home in Jamaica and during his summer vacations he would take annual trips back to Jamaica. One trip home he rekindled with an old friend Ina Stewart, they got married the summer of 1965 and moved  back to New York together. They lived in a modest apartment in Chelsea. Shortly after settling in she became pregnant with his second child and the following year his second daughter Charmaine was born. That was the start of US family life for him, unfortunately their marriage wasn’t successful and they later divorced.

Over the course of years he was committed  to working and supporting his family back home in JWI and here in the US. Not giving up on love he took a go at marriage two more times  (Jacqueline and Manita), but no success. Staying true or principled in relationships was not one of his strong suits, but he did stay true to his faith in God and being apart of a church.

In 1968, Vincent resided in Harlem’s 138th St, over the years he moved to different boroughs but always made  his way back to his home in Harlem.

He was always known for fixing, building and crafting things, but his main love was fishing—net fishing. He would knit nets and ship them to places like Florida, Jamaica and  even Puerto Rico. Once the demand of  fishing nets ceased he moved on to fixing broken umbrellas to keep himself busy.  Fixing and reinforcing them to not break again…some people in his Harlem neighborhood know him as the ‘Umbrella Man’.

In his time of living in New York he was apart of various churches in Harlem. In his earlier years in Harlem he attended King’s Chapel Church and later ended up at Christ Temple where he started attending in 2001. He stayed an active member with Christ Temple until his passing. He was on the ministerial staff and each year he worked with the Thanksgiving outreach, providing dinners for the neighborhood. He was also very involved in the prayer ministry and Sunday School Men’s Class where he was designated as the class Chaplin. He was always on time for service and if you were late, he wasn’t shy to call you out on it. That was Vincent’s “gift” of not being late, “ever ready, ever sharp”! All who knew him, knew that. He kept up with his church at least two days during the week and of course Sunday. He was always devoted about going to church. When Covid limited in-person service, it took a toll on him, very sad not to be able to attend in-person, but he kept up daily with his Bible readings and attending scripture class by phone. Some members did check on him during that time and made calls or visits when permitted. Vincent was not able to continue his regular routine to be at church but he always stayed true to his God and church family. One of his favorite quotes from the scriptures was “Where the twos and the threes are gathered, the Lord will be in the midst”.

So here we are in the ‘midst’ and celebrating the life of Vincent Smith O’Connor. God Bless


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