Octavia Kinard

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Octavia 50613
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Kinard 374 - Section I 01-13-2016
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71 28 11-28-2015
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01-14-2016 Unique Address see comment A2016_01_07_Vol16_043.pdf

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OCTAVIA AND LORD BALTIMORE KINARD: The church-going Brooklyn grandparents killed in a house fire and given a city burial as their grandson fought for his life

Grandparents Octavia and Lord Baltimore Kinard were stalwarts of their Brooklyn community, devoting their lives to family and church – an arena in which Octavia, 71, particularly excelled. She was hugely active in the Mount Lebanon Baptist Church, working tirelessly with the youth and the ushers, encouraging her grandson, O’Justin, to join the program – inspiring him to eventually become Junior Usher State President for New York.

‘She took initiative; she was always the one cooking meals, serving meals,’ says college student O’Justin, now 21. ‘She loved doing soup kitchens and things like that.’

He says she was also the New York States supervisor for the young adult program at the Church Ushers Association, ‘taking care of the trips and finding us transportation, things like that.’

Both Octavia and Lord moved from South Carolina to New York when they were young; she initially wanted to be a scientist, but ‘life happens,’ says her daughter Carrie, 49 – and Octavia pursued domestic and family life instead, marrying Lord, whom she knew from home and reconnected with at a party, and giving birth to Carrie and her brother, Malcolm. 

‘Mom never did go back to school,’ says Carrie, who didn’t know for years about her mother’s scientific ambition. ‘I didn’t know about this thing, how she felt, until way later on. If she had told me this earlier in life, I think I would’ve pushed her to take a class now and then – but she was having fun in her life, she loved ushering.’

She adds: ‘She was always real smart, real creative.’  

Lord Baltimore worked for a company making chemicals and dyes before jobs were cut and he found new employment with Domino Sugar; he loved music and was the singer of the family, along with Carrie, she and O’Justin explain.

‘Daddy was more of a “throw some piece of meat on the barbeque, grill outside, get a couple of beers, play some Sam Cook, either R&B or soul or gospel, gather everybody round"' type of man, Carrie tells DailyMail.com. ‘We’d all start singing; Dad was good with that. That could be every day of Dad’s life… Dad loved to party, but he could party at home. He didn’t have to be at a club or at a bar; he could be right in the house, sitting in the kitchen, radio playing, laughing joking.’

O’Justin grew up in the house with his mother and grandparents and particularly looked up to Lord.

‘I used to tell him all the time that he was the main man in my life,’ O’Justin says fondly. ‘He loved to crack jokes, but he was so stern and so serious. He used to pick me up; I went to school about five blocks from the house … and on Fridays, I got out at 1.30, and he’d always be right there to pick me up every Friday. That was great.’

O’Justin bonded not only through ushering with his grandmother, but also through their trips through their Brooklyn neighborhood for treats such as ice cream. His mother laughs about how they’d disappear on their little journeys; the entire family were thick as thieves, and Carrie and O’Justin laugh about Octavia’s small gambling hobby.

‘She played the penny and nickel machines,’ says Carrie. ‘Any casino she found, that’s what she found: the penny and nickel machines – and sat there back in the day pulling a lever; now it’s pressing a button.’

Octavia would never overplay, however, saving enough for food and then the trip home after having her fun with the innocent slots.

Carrie explains how her mother would reason: ‘I’m down to my last $25; they’ve got a seafood restaurant down there. I’m going to get something to eat and then I’m going for the bus.’

Carrie and O’Justin enjoy sharing the happy memories they have of Octavia and Lord, but the grief is evident even through their laughter; the grandparents were killed in November 2015 in a fire at the family home which also left O’Justin with third degree burns over nearly 50 percent of his body but thankfully left Carrie relatively unharmed. It was during the ensuing weeks – as O’Justin recovered in a burn unit, with his distraught mother at his side – that Octavia and Lord would end up on Hart Island.

Carrie takes a moment to compose herself before explaining the painful period that followed the devastating fire.

‘I didn’t want to make any funeral arrangements without my son,’ she says. ‘Everyone was against that, very against it; I didn’t care. My brother came from Florida and we talked; he was at the hospital with my son, O’Justin was in the bed. I said, “Listen. We’re broke.” There was no insurance, there was no life insurance, there was literally nothing in my pockets.’

Some church donations were coming in for the family, but Carrie – beside herself – decided: ‘I’m not doing anything for Mom or Dad until the doctor says to me: “Your son can leave here.”’

As time continued to pass, a woman from the Medical Examiner’s office explained to Carrie about a city burial on Hart Island; a lifelong Brooklynite, Carrie had never heard of it.

‘She gave me plenty of time,’ she says. ‘I spoke to our pastor, and he said whenever I was ready, he would have a service at his church, bodies or no bodies. I said, “What bodies? I know where they are.”’

Her thinking was, Carrie explains, ‘Mom and Dad are still in the house, so what am I burying?’

So Carrie told the Medical Examiner’s office that Hart Island was fine with her.

‘She said, “Anytime you want any information on it, just call me back,”’ Carrie says. ‘I didn’t get into a whole lot of detail, because, again, my son was fighting for his life. To me, there was nothing I could do about that; I’m focusing on my son.

‘That’s how they got there, basically, because what other choices did I have? I’m sure my family don’t agree, but my brother, my son and myself made the decision. Everybody else, I don’t care.’

As O’Justin healed, he and Carrie would visit the burnt-out family home to pay their respects to Octavia and Lord.

‘Originally he said, “Mom, I don’t have nothing to go visit,”’ Carrie says of her son. ‘I said, “You can always go by the house.” So that’s what he used to do. He used to come over here, take pictures, post on Instagram, Facebook, “Hey Grandma, Hey Grandpa.” That’s where we visit them.’

O’Justin only recently found out about Hart Island, and he was taken aback by stark pictures of the burial site online. But both he and Carrie hope to visit their loved ones soon in the Bronx.

‘Any day he says, “Ma, I want to go up there,” we’re going to go,’ Carrie says. ‘I’m going to figure it out.’

She believes that, like her, many native New Yorkers have no idea that the island exists – and more openness and information should surround the burial site. She was wholly unaware that inmates would be burying her parents.

‘Potter's Field, that’s all you ever hear about,’ she says.

Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-4977742/The-island-mass-burial-site-New-York-city-dead.html#ixzz5FFXtIyXC 

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