Sunday, February 26, 2006

Funeral services set for Boimah Cooper

The 6-year-old Liberian native died Feb. 17 from complications following spinal surgery

By Kiawana Rich, Advance Staff Writer

Funeral services for Boimah Cooper, the 6-year-old Liberian boy who died Feb. 17 after undergoing a delicate spinal operation at New York University (NYU) Medical Center, are scheduled to take place Friday and Saturday at Christian Pentecostal Church, 900 Richmond Rd., Concord.

Friday's service will be held from 7 to 11 p.m., while the Saturday service will be from 10 a.m. to noon.

The eulogy during the Friday service will be delivered by Pastor Dave Watson of Calvary Chapel, Mariners Harbor. Also speaking during the Friday service will be the Rev. Okeke Stephens, Catholic Chaplain of New York University Medical Center.

Several noted Staten Islanders, community leaders and public officials are expected to speak on behalf of Boimah during the services.

Following the Saturday service, a traditional Liberian meal, called a Repass, will be held at the Great Kills Little League clubhouse, located at 245 Greaves Ave., Great Kills. The meal will include both Liberian and American food to honor both Boimah's African roots and his love for America.

On March 6, Boimah's body will be taken to his native Liberia for burial. Boimah will be escorted by Dongan Hills resident Patricia Lockhart. Ms. Lockhart, a 2001 Advance Woman of Achievement, brought Boimah here last summer for medical treatment and had planned to adopt him. Burial will be on March 10.

Boimah died of complications after a 12-hour spinal operation at NYU Medical Center to correct a spinal deformity brought on by tuberculosis. The disease had ravaged the tiny boy's body, making it difficult for him to walk and breathe. While the operation was initially termed successful, Boimah took a turn for the worse hours after the surgery.

Ms. Lockhart is still looking to raise about $10,000 to cover the expense of plane tickets as well as the cost of transporting Boimah's body and his burial in Liberia.

A fund has been started under the care of the Staten Island Liberian Community Association (SILCA). Although the SILCA is assisting, all funds are handled by Ms. Lockhart and will be strictly appropriated to handle expenses related to Boimah's funeral or future projects she will handle in his name.

Donations may be sent to the Staten Island Liberian Community Association Relief Fund, P.O. Box 61385, Staten Island, N.Y., 10306. For more information, call SILCA president George Curtis at (646) 996-8736 or Ms. Lockhart at (917) 445-7095 or visit