Home News Local news Family, Friends Remember Former Attorney General Godfrey De Castro

Family, Friends Remember Former Attorney General Godfrey De Castro

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Jan. 26, 2007 – Former Attorney General Godfrey R. de Castro died Wednesday at his brother's house in Anna's Retreat, St. Thomas. He was 84.
"We have lost a true example of a Renaissance man. He was more concerned with the greater good of his community rather than personal accomplishments," Sen. Shawn-Michael Malone said in a news release issued Friday.
He said that de Castro achieved more in his life than most people can hope to do.
"All of us, especially those of us who serve the public in leadership positions like myself, should seek to emulate this same spirit," Malone said.
De Castro's great-great niece, Stella Saunders, said that her uncle was an intellectual man who was outspoken and well-respected in his family and the community.
"We will all miss him dearly," she said.
She said he loved the English language and was fond of using multisyllabic words that sent his listeners to the dictionary for definitions.
Saunders said she and the other nieces and nephews of her generation were the children de Castro never had. He was a lifelong bachelor.
De Castro served as the territory's attorney general in the mid-1980s under former Gov. Alexander A. Farrelly.
Born in Tortola, de Castro said in a 1987 interview that he moved to St. Thomas in 1937 to attend school. He graduated from Charlotte Amalie High School .
He said he worked as a timekeeper at Bourne Field and as a Daily News reporter until he was drafted in 1945 into what was then a segregated U.S. Army.
The war's end found him in the company of about 20 black soldiers from the Caribbean at a transit camp in Puerto Rico. He said that the black soldiers were put to work sweeping the streets while white prisoners of war relaxed in the shade. This insult incited someone to write to the local press.
"I was not the one who had written the letter, but if I had thought of it first …," he said, chucking.
In 1946 he entered Howard University to study English and philosophy. He called them four marvelous years that included the student council presidency and membership in the Canterbury Club and the debate society.
On a debate society trip to West Point, a judge told him he ought to take up law.
He then went to Harvard Law School on a scholarship, moving to New York City after his 1955 graduation to practice law at the New York State Supreme Court. He subsequently worked under Thurgood Marshall, later a U.S. Supreme Court justice, at the NAACP Legal Defense Fund. De Castro retired in 1983 as chief of litigation for the city's housing authority.
De Castro called his job as attorney general his retirement job, but noted there was much to be done and many vacuums to fill.
He said in the 1987 interview that while he enjoyed the management aspects of his job, the legal facts, what he called the lawyering, excited him more. He said he enjoyed writing, liked public speaking and welcomed the challenge of trying to change people's minds.
"Not merely for the sake of changing minds," he said. "I enjoy being an advocate, although some people think I'm more of a poet."
In 1996 he ran unsuccessfully for a seat in the Legislature.
A viewing will be held Feb. 2 from 8:30 to 9:30 a.m. at Davis Funeral Home on St. Thomas. A funeral service will immediately follow at the Cathedral Church of All Saints.
De Castro's body will be transported to Tortola for a viewing Feb. 3 at 9 a.m. at St. George's Anglican Church in Road Town. The funeral service will be held at 10 a.m. at St. George's. Interment will follow at St. George's cemetery.
He is survived by sisters Lilian de Castro Pickering, Enid de Castro and Daisy de Castro, as well as brothers Conrad, Donald and Alonzo. He is also survived by sisters-in-law Hazel de Castro, Lucia de Castro, Lydia de Castro, Bianca de Castro and brother-in-law George Bell.
He is also survived by many nieces and nephews, other family members and numerous friends.

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