President Sirleaf Pays Tearful Tribute to Willis Knuckles

first_imgPresident Ellen Johnson Sirleaf joined hundreds of friends, family and colleagues who gathered in Careysburg Saturday morning to lay to rest the remains of the late Willis DeFrancis Knuckles, Jr.President Sirleaf began her eulogy in the form of a Letter: “Dear Willis…”A deeply saddened President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf, in her tearful tribute, described the late Knuckles as an awesome strategist who, she said,  immensely, committedly and honestly contributed to her successes in the 2005 and 2011 presidential elections.She said he was introduced to her as a ‘rising star’; and as a non-partisan, he began to effect his strategies and organizational skills during presidential campaigns.She asserted that she saw it fitting for Willis to be part of her first cabinet team as Minister of Publics Works and later as Minister of State for Presidential Affairs, but characteristically coined his departure from her government as “untimely,” adding that “He held no bitterness.”The President recalled that although Knuckles went into the private sector as a business man, “he always dropped by my house to spice my day with his wise counsel.”Madam Sirleaf, in a painful narration, said her last meeting with Willis Knuckles was at the John F. Kennedy Hospital in Monrovia, where he was in uncontrollable tears, coupled with the lamentations of family members.She indicated that that an emotional heartbreak forced her to leave the hospital in tears.President Sirleaf told the thousand-odd funeral-goers that Willis’ tears at the hospital sent a message that he would no longer be with us.  This prediction to his death  brought tears in the eyes of many in the Seys United Methodist Church in Careysburg.“I had never seen him cry before; and so I believed that was a message that I would not see him again,” the President said.Sorrowfully, for about three minutes, the President left the podium and held on to the casket bearing Mr. Knuckles’ mortal remains and grieved before the mourners, which spared another tearful moment.Some Christians and Muslims who were in the Church argued that if the President had the power of resurrection, or had direct access to God, she would have either resurrected Willis, or prostrated before God as she did at the casket.The President made a remark she had never before revealed publicly: that Willis Knuckles was the person upon whom she depended to organize the transfer of Liberia’s capital city from Monrovia, Montserrado County, to Zekepa in Nimba County.Others who also paid tributes included Foreign Minister Augustine Ngafuan, who read the Official Gazette on behalf of the Liberian Government as Dean of the Cabinet; the City Corporation of Careysburg, the Rotary Clubs of Monrovia and Sinkor, Alpha Oldtimers and Crowd 21.Others included the Liberia Annual Conference of the United Methodist Church, the Monrovia Christian Church, the Mount Galilee Baptist Church (Careysburg), First Presbyterian Chruch (Careyburg), Seys United Methodist Church and the family.In his funeral discourse, Seys Senior Pastor Sampson W. Nyanti told the audience that death is inevitable, and that after death is judgment for hell or heaven. Rev. Nyanti said there are three things that sends one to heaven: Knowing, Believing and Living the Word God.Prior to Mr. Knuckles’ employment in the Unity Party’s led government, specially between, 1969-1993, he served as Liaison Officer and Special Protocol Attache, planning for and executing important events such as State Visits, Conferences and Inaugurations and serving as a Liaison to foreign dignitaries, including Heads of State.At the State Department, he served as Secretary to Secretary of State J. Rudolph Grimes and was later appointed by the late President Tubman as a member of Liberian delegations to several Ministerial and Summit meetings of Organization of African Unity in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.  He also attended the Summit of Heads of State of the Non-Aligned Movement in Lusaka, Zambia.Mr. Knuckles also served as Administrative Assistant to the late Vice President James E. Greene, until his death in 1977. President William R. Tolbert in 1979 appointed Mr. Knuckles Assistant Minister for Sports in the Ministry of Labor, Youth and Sports, during the tenure of Minister Estrada J. Bernard. Following his successful organization of a six-nation tournament won by Liberia, Knucles was elevated to the position of Deputy Minister for Youth and Sports, the assignment he held until his resignation in June 1980.The late Knuckles served as Managing Editor at the Daily Observer from 1982-1984 as well as a correspondent for the BBC’s Focus on Africa Program.Willis was a strong believer in the family and the Church. He was a lifelong Methodist, spearheaded and organized record fundraising drives on two occasions for the rebuilding of the Church.He served as Secretary General and Vice Chairman of the Liberia Football Association (LFA) from 1972-1975 and from 1984-1986.In 1988, he organized and served as managing director of the Sports World, which was forced to close down in 1990  at the onset of the civil war. Again, in 1992, he established a wholly owned private business entity, which provided a vital link between Liberians at home and their relatives in the US, West Africa and other part of the world.The distinguished statesman  died Monday, July 28, 2014 at the hour of 12:30 am in Accra, Ghana after a brief illness.He was born June 29, 1946 in the City of Careysburg, Montserrado County unto the Union of  Mr. Willis D.  Knuckles, Sr. and Mrs. Ethel Dunbar Knuckles, the second of 15 children. He was predeceased by two brothers, George and Winston.He is survived by his widow, Mrs. Hawa Evelyn Knuckles; three children, Hawa-Ellen Knuckles, Willis D. Knuckles, III (Marie), and Ethel V. Knuckles; his mother, Mrs. Ethel Dunbar Wah; 12 brothers and sisters, Mrs. Bushin Wilson, Gabriel, Raymond, Marie Forko, William, Benedict, Pitman, Emma Burl Sea, Ethel Coomber, Estella, Mawolo and Robert; two grandchildren: Somod Willis and Nala Miriam; and many other relatives and friends in Liberia and abroad.The Liberian Official Gazette described the late Knuckles as: Patriot, Administrator, Entrepreneur, Devout Christian and Dedicated Public Servant.Mr. Knuckles was buried at the Knuckles’ Cemetery opposite his house in Careysburg.President Ellen Johnson-Sireaf led the Cabinet to the burial, which marked the first time for President Sirleaf to attend both funeral and burial ceremonies, since her reelection in 2011.Share this:Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)last_img read more

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Wilson girls wrap up Moore League golf title

first_img He’s known for being the driving force along with Roland Hemond and Long Beach’s Harry Minor behind the creation of the Professional Scouts Foundation that has raised more than a half million dollars in a mere two years to assist retired scouts who have fallen on difficult times. He’s known for having one of the most successful life insurance businesses in the country that caters to many Hollywood celebrities, and his Gilbert-Krupin company in Beverly Hills has made him wealthy beyond his wildest boyhood dreams he had while growing him in modest circumstances in Gardena. Gilbert knows all the tricks since he employed so many of them himself, and the White Sox have not fallen victim to the slick manipulations of shrewd agents like the one who the past offseason suckered the general manager of the Dodgers, Paul DePodesta, into overpaying for J.D. Drew ($55 million for five years), Derek Lowe ($38 million for four years) and Odalis Perez ($28 million for three years). It’s not exactly a coincidence that the White Sox, at $72 million, had the seventh-lowest payroll among the eight playoff teams, ahead of only the San Diego Padres. “We’re not a team with a lot of stars,” says Reinsdorf. But the team that did have a lot of stars, the New York Yankees, with their obscene $220 million payroll, is on vacation. And the team that spent about a third as much, the White Sox, will be attempting to win the franchise’s first world championship since 1917. There is no doubt the general manager of the White Sox, Ken Williams, has done an admirable job putting together a balanced team with all the necessary ingredients a proficient leadoff batter (Scott Podsednik), a trio of sluggers (Paul Konerko, Jermaine Dye and Carl Everett), a center fielder who covers a lot of ground (Aaron Rowand), three sure-fielding infielders who can hit (Joe Crede, Tadahito Iguchi and Juan Uribe), consistent starting pitchers (Jose Contreras, Mark Buehrle, Jon Garland and Freddy Garcia) and a reliable bullpen (Bobby Jenks, Orlando Hernandez, Neal Cotts, Luis Vizcaino, Dustin Hermanson and Demaso Marte). There is also no doubt that Dennis Gilbert has played a role in the surprising emergence of the White Sox as an elite team. He was involved in the off-season negotiations with Iguchi, an exceptional second baseman from Japan who signed with the White Sox for two years at $4 million, with an option for a third year for $3 million. Contrast that with the inflated contract the New York Mets gave to another Japanese infielder named Kaz Matsui, who was given $20 million over three years. Because the White Sox were able to secure Iguchi at such a modest price, the team had enough money left over to sign El Duque Hernandez, who has become a valuable reliever. “Like I said, Dennis has been of great value to our team,” says Reinsdorf. Ironically, the first time Jerry Reinsdorf met Dennis Gilbert came in 1985 when Gilbert was representing a young White Sox shortstop named Ozzie Guillen. “Dennis and I immediately became good friends, and he’s helped us in so many ways since he came with us,” says Reinsdorf, a Brooklyn native who grew up in Flatbush and was a Dodger loyalist who attended Jackie Robinson’s first game at Ebbetts Field in 1947. “Dennis is such a nice guy, and he reminds me of a Jewish mother. He’s always concerned and worried about everything. He’s very caring.” These are euphoric times for Jerry Reinsdorf, whose 25-year ownership of the White Sox is exceeded only by the team’s founder Charles Comiskey (1901-1931). “It always was big when we were in the NBA Finals because we had an Elvis Presley-caliber celebrity on our team in Michael Jordan,” says Reinsdorf. “But the World Series is much bigger. I’ve never seen Chicago this excited. Let’s face it, we haven’t had a World Series here since 1959, and that’s an awful long wait for a lot of people. Winning all those championships with the Bulls was great, but it would be the ultimate of my sports career if we win a world championship.” Jerry Reinsdorf received a call from Jeff Torborg, the one-time Florida Marlin manager, after the 2003 season, recommending Guillen to fill the White Sox’s managerial opening. “Ozzie had been a coach under Jeff with the Marlins, and Torborg told me Ozzie was ready to be a manager,” relates Reinsdorf. “I knew Ozzie had a brilliant baseball mind and was a happy-go-lucky fellow. And so I had Ken Williams give him an interview. And Williams immediately liked Guillen, and hired him.” Of course, in the background, you can be sure Dennis Gilbert also was putting in kind words about Guillen to Reinsdorf. “What I like so much about Dennis is that he knows all the scuttlebutt that’s going on around our sport,” says Reinsdorf of the man who lives in Hidden Hills West near Calabasas next door to Stevie Wonder. And what Jerry Reinsdorf also likes about Dennis Gilbert is that Gilbert has a keen comprehension of the financial structure of the game, meaning the White Sox’s success is especially satisfying to Reinsdorf since it has come without his having to pay out outlandish sums to his players like the owners do in New York, Boston and even Anaheim. 160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set! CHICAGO — Dennis Gilbert is known for once being the high profile agent of such players as Barry Bonds, Mike Piazza, George Brett, Bret Saberhagen, Curt Schilling and countless others. He’s known for donating more than a million dollars for the construction of a stadium that bears his name at Southwest Community College in south central Los Angeles for major-league baseball’s RBI (Reviving Baseball in the Inner Cities) program. center_img AD Quality Auto 360p 720p 1080p Top articles1/5READ MOREWalnut’s Malik Khouzam voted Southern California Boys Athlete of the Week He’s known for being a one-time minor-league center fielder nicknamed Go Go for his knack of stealing bases, and even played for Minor one season in Visalia. But what isn’t known about Dennis Gilbert is that he has played an important behind-the-scenes role in the remarkable rise of the Chicago White Sox, who make their first World Series appearance in 46 years Saturday night when they face the Houston Astros at U.S. Cellular Field. The owner of the White Sox, Jerry Reinsdorf, hired Gilbert five years ago to be his special assistant, and says he speaks on the phone to Gilbert at least three times a day. “Dennis has made valuable contributions to the organization and to me since he came aboard,” says Reinsdorf, who’s also the long-time owner of the Chicago Bulls and has six NBA titles rings from the Michael Jordan era. “He goes to all of the Dodgers and Angels games out in Southern California, and also is very helpful in contract negotiations.” It is the latter, of course, that is Gilbert’s greatest asset, since he was on the other side for so many years working the angles to dredge as much money as he could out of management for his clients. last_img read more

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