Limón Leader Mourned

May 13, 2005

BARBER and social leader Alfred“King” Henry Smith, better known in theLimón community as Alfred King, diedthis week at 88, casting a pall over theCaribbean port city as it mourns one of itsfavorite sons.The popular black Limonense was inthe intensive care unit of the Tony FacioHospital in Limón for three days – he wasadmitted for an anemic attack and strongchest pains – before he died of three successiveheart attacks at 8:30 p.m. Mondaynight, the daily Al Día reported.AMONG King’s accomplishmentswithin the Limón community wasfounding the annual Carnavales deLimón, first held in 1949.In the 1930s and 40s, King worked onthe canal locks in Panama, where he sawhow local carnivals were organized. Uponhis return to Costa Rica, he enlisted friendsto help set up a carnival to coincide withLimón’s Día de la Cultura celebrations(TT, Oct. 13, 2000).“Panama had a carnival and so didother countries, but always close to AshWednesday,” King told The Tico Timeslast year. “We chose to have it Oct. 12 tocelebrate Columbus Day.”The weeklong event has become amajor draw for Limón residents, CostaRicans from other regions, and tourists.Caribbean music, foods and artwork areavailable in abundance during the celebrations,which also include plenty ofdancing in the streets by comparzas,groups dressed as skeletons, kings andqueens who trot down the street to drumbeats(TT, Oct. 8, 2004).KING also was a member of theCosta Rican branch of the UniversalNegro Improvement Association(UNIA), and his downtown Limón barbershop,in the lower level of the BlackStar Line building – once the offices ofUNIA founder Marcus Garvey’s BlackStar shipping line, and now an Afro-Caribbean cultural center – was a Limóninstitution.Funeral services will be held at 1 p.m.tomorrow at San Marcos Church inLimón. Organizers delayed the servicesuntil tomorrow because former Limónresidents living in the United States askedfor time to return to Costa Rica to honorKing’s memory, according to La Nación.King is survived by 17 children and aplethora of grandchildren; in a recentinterview, he joked that he lost count ofhis descendents when they exceeded 50,Al Día reported.

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