TODAY'S PAPER
Good Afternoon
Good Afternoon
NewsHealthCoronavirus

Paul Xavier Duroc Saintellus: A family patriarch known simply as Pastor

Paul Xavier Duroc Saintellus of Queens Village.

Paul Xavier Duroc Saintellus of Queens Village.   Credit: Sophie Williams

Paul Xavier Duroc Saintellus of Queens Village was known by the people who knew and loved him by a much simpler moniker: Pastor.

The Haiti native who would settle in New York City with his new wife in the mid-1960s preached in Brooklyn churches as a layman. But he was also revered as a patriarch whose words could defuse a family squabble as easily as they made grandchildren chuckle.

Saintellus, a laborer, father, peacemaker and philanthropist who died of heart illness at Queens General Hospital on April 2 — the day before his 90th birthday — is one of thousands of New Yorkers to succumb in recent weeks to the novel coronavirus.

“His friends and family called him ‘Pastor’ instead of his real name and they considered it an honor to call him that,” said Sophonie Williams of Valley Stream, a daughter. “He was well respected.”

Saintellus was born on April 3, 1930, in Acahaie, Haiti, to a large family — he had 13 siblings — but he left Haiti for the United States in 1964 shortly after his marriage to the former Anne Marie Casimir.

The couple settled in Manhattan and Harlem and started a family with the arrival of Sophonie. Joel, now of Queens Village and Naomi, now of Hagerstown, Maryland, would follow before the Saintelluses bought a house in Queens in 1981.

By then, though, Pastor had begun commuting to Tarrytown for the job that would define his working career: He served as an assembly line laborer for General Motors until he retired in 1992, Williams said.

A note to our community:

As a public service, this article is available for all. Newsday readers support our strong local journalism by subscribing.  Please show you value this important work by becoming a subscriber now.

SUBSCRIBE

Cancel anytime

She recalls his dedication to work and family despite physical ailments that forced him into retirement.

“Regardless of his aches and pains in his body, he was always there: weddings, funerals, parties,” she said.

Saintellus was generous with his words, his time and his money, regularly sending funds to charities.

“He would send his last dime to you,” Williams said.

And the former lay preacher often dropped gems of truth for a secular world. “This is life,” was one of his mainstays, an axiom that all but summed up his pragmatism and easygoing ways.

“My father was very laid back and he didn’t let things bother him,” Williams said. “He was the mediator in the family. If there was a problem, you could call him.”

Besides his wife, son and daughters, Saintellus is survived by a sister, Ernesta D’Haiti of Hillside; six grandchildren, Jeffrey, Kevin, Shawn and Eriq Williams of Valley Stream, and Jovan Almodovar and Kaiya Saintellus of Hagerstown, Maryland; and a son-in-law, Larry Williams of Valley Stream.

He was buried Friday at Maple Grove Cemetery in Kew Gardens.

A note to our community:

As a public service, this article is available for all. Newsday readers support our strong local journalism by subscribing.  Please show you value this important work by becoming a subscriber now.

SUBSCRIBE

Cancel anytime

Health