The Memoriam by Binta Vann to her father, Dr. Albert Vann (November 19, 1934 – July 15, 2022), was originally published in The Amsterdam News, on August 4, 2022.
So many people knew and loved my father. My family and I willingly and proudly shared him with the broader Brooklyn community and the world. It wasn’t always easy, but we knew his work was his passion, it moved his spirit, it was his offering during his life walk.
And as beloved and revered as he was, his commitment and devotion to his family were OUT OF THIS WORLD. He loved us with such intention, concern, and generosity. He had high expectations for us, but he had a soft heart, wise words, and endless patience. He wanted to see his children, grandchildren, nieces, and cousins thrive. He led our family with optimism and realism, and above all, devotion.
When his cancer treatment began to fail, and he decided to stop treatments and transition on his own terms, he was hesitant about notifying his friends and community. I think he felt he was letting us down in some way. But with strong encouragement from his dear friend, Richard Jones, and family, he asked me to scribe his last words—which were filled with humility. It was my honor to do so.
His letter was a gift to his community, giving them a chance to say goodbye. In the weeks leading to his death, he saw dozens of loved ones who lifted his spirit and gained some sense of closure. We are grateful for the continued support we receive.
Letter from Albert Vann
Dear loved ones and friends,
I hope this message finds you in the best of health and spirit. I will get right to the point of my message. It has been over a year and a half since I’ve been diagnosed with cancer, which I only shared with my family. I’d like to thank my family for being strong and for keeping this a family matter.
I am doing well and am in good spirits. I realize that there is really no best time to send this message to you. And because you are all my family too, I wanted to share this news with you. I have come to face the fact that I will not survive my illness. It has curtailed my activities and is inoperable. But there is still a lot of life to be lived. And I’m planning to live mine until my last breath.
I have lived a truly blessed life. As a life-long Bed-Stuy resident, I, along with many of you, share the wonderful memories of our community. My activities with you have in so many ways resulted in achievements, victories, and accomplishments that have not only highlighted and touched my life immensely but enriched my spirit and brought joy to our friendships. Your devotion and contributions, no matter how large or small, have heightened the lives of our children, families, and communities.
I continue to pray that these accomplishments are a lighted pathway and an example to those who come behind us. There can be no greater legacy for us to leave than the service we have bestowed to others during our time on this earth.
All that I ask of each of you is to keep living your lives to the fullest. Stay the course of helping one another and uplifting our Brooklyn community.
I encourage you to reach out as the spirit moves you and, in any form, you choose to take.
Thank you for your understanding and friendship.
With Much Love and Respect,
Donations to the Al Vann Legacy Scholarship Fund can be made at: https://give.classy.org/Albert-Vann-Legacy-Scholarship-Fund