Herbert Lafayette Diah

Herbert Lafayette Diah

4/6/2016 10:10:38 AM

Herbert Lafayette Diah – A Man for All Seasons

Herbie, the first of three children born to Stanley and Ella Mae (Ritchie) Diah was born in Nassau on October 15th, 1928.  He obtained his early education in Jamaica (Clarendon College) where his father relocated seeking an improved economical means for his family during the Great Depression and War era. Post secondary education accomplished and upon becoming a ‘Man’ he returned to his beloved Bahamas to eagerly start his adult life and rekindle earlier friendships.  His first stints were in The Courts system and at Batelco as a Technician. 

The Health field was his lifelong passion and he joined the staff of Princess Margaret Hospital in his early 20’s under the pupilage of many colonial bosses.  The 1967 Majority Rule transition was a proud and glorious period for Herbie and his Hospital coworkers as he started to climb the rungs of the professional Health field that were now opened to locals beyond a Clark 2 position. They were pioneers in Health field with a deep sense of pride in laying the ground work for locals and patients in the health care industry’s future.  In 1968 he completed a two year Hospital Administrative Education Diploma in London and shortly thereafter was promoted to The Hospital Administrator position at PMH. Some of his proudest accomplishments were at The PMH as Hospital Administrator. Facilitating more Bahamians into the medical field - Doctors, Nurses, Pharmacist, technicians and other support staff were the order of the day. It was the beginning of The ‘Bahamianization’ mandate for Bahamians to take control of their destiny.  Today, Herbie’s photo graces the ‘Hall Of Fame’ Wall of PMH.           

Herbie also served as Hospital Administrator at The Sandilands Rehabilitation Centre where he left a positive mark among the staff, patients and facilities.  He later moved to The Rand Memorial Hospital as Administrator in the early 70’s with a mission to improve the health care in Grand Bahama.  His positive medical contributions in Freeport were rewarded with the naming of the Rand’s Physiatrist Ward ‘The Diah Ward’ in his honor.  

After facing the challenge of an early retirement during his mid 40’s he dabbled in auto repairs, a water softener business and heavy duty equipment operations. However, his heart was always with Health Care and he started VitalCare Medical Supplies.  The business thrived over the years until his medical condition forced the closure of the business. 

Throughout his working career he celebrated life.  His laughter was real, his company warm and many flocked to his numerous home parties.  A live goat or sheep that he slaughtered coupled with drinks they manufactured from The Hospital Dispensary was the start of a full weekend party. The party was always followed by a morning Boil Fish and consideration for another party. Many Heath problems were resolved at these parties.  

Herbie was civic minded and always pursued avenues of ‘Giving Back to The Community’. He donated his entire VitalCare medical supplies inventory to victims of Hurricane Katrina in Haiti at the close of his business.   He was also an avid Rotarian belonging to the Freeport and West Nassau Branches where he served as an active member over decades. He was awarded the Paul Harris Fellowship for his many contributions and camaraderie in The Rotary Clubs. The Rotary Club also recognized him in September 2015 for the ‘Service Above Self Award’ for 37 years of Service.      

As a Widower Herbie experienced emptiness and took the opportunity to rekindle his relationship with his God. He was always a Christian being raised in The Brethren faith at Gospel Hall Dowdswell Street.  Rex Major, a close family member /friend and his ‘Look Alike’ was his mentor which made Herbie’s becoming ‘Saved Again’ an easy transition. He became an active member of Grace Community Church into perpetuity.  He loved the fellowship, family integration, small group prayer sessions and the Sunday services to listen and learn ‘The Word’.  He loved his church and parishioners.             

He was a family man who loved ‘All’ of his children.  It was during his early years at PMH that he fell in love and married the beautiful Mildred Hanna (Deceased), a Pharmacist at The Hospital. Together they built a home at his parents homestead in Perpall Tract (officially Ferguson’s Manor) and nurtured four loving children Van, Zo, Kevin and Bradley.  Being one of the first settler’s in Perpall Tract, along with The Benjamin’s and Mitchells he became a father figure to all of the neighborhood children who remember him fondly as they have dubbed him ‘The Mayor of Perpall Tract’ and ‘The Last of The Mohicans’ in this close knitted community.     

He later married Tina Hurst from Detroit Michigan with whom he shared the ‘High life’ until her demise. It was Herbie’s socialite years with convertible cars, fine dining, entertainment and world travels.    

It was his marriage to Lorraine Drew in 2000 that further solidified his faith in God.  She was visiting the Bahamas with friends of the Diah family when she met the debonair Herbie and sparks flew, chemistry activated immediately and the marriage was imminent.  There was much synergy with both having lost a spouse within recent years, their love for family and a loving partner and their overarching spiritual beliefs. Lorraine moved to Nassau and they became one.      

It was a relationship with family and friends at Howard University Hospital that lead to Herbie’s nine years of Medical attention in The United States. Together they would rotate living in The Bahamas and The United States to accommodate Herbie’s treatment. They were always welcomed, supported and accommodated by Ricky, Chella and Erin in Baltimore and Patti in San Antonio.   

The Diah’s returned home in July 2015 and decided on not returning to The U.S. because of the medical challenge of Herbie traveling. 

It was during the early hours of Sunday morning, April 3rd, 2016 when Herbie passed in his sleep and his long suffering ended.   

Herbie is survived by his Wife: Lorraine; Children: Van, Zo, Kevin and Bradley Diah; Dr. Erin Spruill, Patrice Dargan, Lynne Tyler, Graciella and Eric Drew; Son-In-Law: Dr. Betram Sears; Grandchildren: Nicole, Nicholas, Neil and Candice Diah; Blair, Summer and Breck Sears; Amber Drew, Christian Spriuill, Marcus and Cameron Austin, Shanita Williams, Dorian, Tauryn, Eric and Trevor Dargan; Justin and Journie Drew-Hargraw, Jordan Drew; Kristina, Erica, Nicholas, Mikaela and Tanari Drew; Sisters: Gloria Chin, Dorothy Austin and Maria Diah; Aunt: Antoinette Weech; Nieces: Michelle Tulloch, Sadia and Karen Austin, Glenda Delpine, Cathleen Drew and Sharon Reyes; Nephews: Keith and Garry Tulloch, Stanley and Henry Austin, Richard and Mario Jackson, Garth, Donny and Falcon Major; Cousins: Paulette, Magnol, Gloren and Edgar Walker; Wynton Isaacs, Brenda Major, Colyn Edgecombe, Rosie Cartwright, Vernice, Homer, Lowell & Lamuel Ritchie, Shirley Cartwright, Elizabeth Carey, Chester Diah & Denise Grant; Special Thanks to:  Pastor Lyall Bethel & Grace Community Church Family, Elder Dave Hanna, Asst. Pastor Tinkle Hanna, Pastor Emeritus Rex Major and Mrs. Doreen Major, Elder Emeritus Charles & Angela Wallace & family, Elder Stuart & Allison Kelly, Carlon & Orinico Bethel, Philip & Sandra Kemp, Bernice Kelly & Silver Stars of Grace, Shirley Burrows, Elder Herbert & Marjorie Treco & family, Pastor Forrest Jones, Rev. LaVerne Wison-Mclaughin, Quetlie & Alexis Jean Baptiste & family (caregivers) and Shidlyn Dacius (special care giver). The Perpall Tract Community, Members of Rotary International, Pedro Perpall, Fred Cooper, Stephanie Carroll, Densil Major, Delores Bethel, Carey Bros., The Haven family, Dame Ivy Dumont & family, Marie & Doulton Evans, Pete & Sarah Higgs.   In the U.S. Joseph Bishop & family, Joseph & Merla Drew, Maurice & Paula Welsh, William & Sadie Gee; and many other too much to mention.    
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