PRAYER FOR THE VIRGIN
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WILBUR "BILL" LAMOTTA
Saturday morning at eleven o'clock
October 11, 1980
All Saints Cathedral Church
St. Thomas, Virgin Islands
The Very Reverend
Thomas W. Gibbs III, Dean
Edris Sebastian, Organist
Musical Tribute by the Caribbean Chorale
Lawrence Benjamin, Director
V.I. National Guard, Honor Guard
Musical Selections by
St. Croix Community Band
Interment in Western Cemetery
Musical Selections by the
Mellowhawks Steel Band
Richard Callwood, Director
Wilbur "Bill" LaMotta
January 13, 1919 October 8, 1980
M ost people are fortunate if they can excel in one area in their
lifetime. Wilbur "Bill" LaMotta achieved excellence in many.
Musician, composer, engineer, businessman, community activist, de-
voted family man Bill's prodigious energies and burning impatience
with mediocrity drove him to stand out in all these fields.
The son of Wesley and Elisa de LaMotta, nee Schuster. Bill was
born in Christiansted. St. Croix on January 13, 1919. into a musical
family. His gift for music showed at an early age and by five he was
playing the home organ, turning shortly to the clarinet. Before many
years passed, he was playing for community musicals and serving as
substitute church organist. One year of piano lessons led his teacher
to say she could take him no further, as he had advanced beyond her
... conducting the St. Croix Community Band
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... receiving the Small Businessman of the Year award from the late Gov. King.
capabilities. His proficiency prompted Governor Paul M. Pearson to
see that Bill had his own piano.
At 17, his years of study were rewarded when he had his first
song, Headin' For Home, accepted by a New York publisher and
recorded by many artists. This launched a career in which he would
compose more than 400 songs and several serious pieces. In his later
years, he devoted himself to using his Caribbean musical roots in
concert pieces such as The Last Bamboula, Dawn From a Window
In Paradise, and Bolero for Don Pablo dedicated to and performed
by renowned cellist Pablo Casals.
He studied at the famed Juilliard School of Music in New York
City and later performed around the nation with his five brothers,
appearing on major television shows and their own show on a leading
New York radio station. His first album released by RCA Victor
- was instrumental in introducing Caribbean music to the United
States. His popular songs including Come Back To The Virgin
Islands, Carnival in St. Thomas, Mills of Old St. Croix. Prayer For
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the Virgin Islands, and many more are familiar to us all.
His musical career was interrupted by World War Two, which
brought him into another career. He graduated from the U.S. Mer-
chant Marine Academy incidentally composing the school march-
ing song and served as an officer in the U.S. Navy. His degree in
engineering gave him expertise in the field of electrical power, an
expertise he freely gave to his homeland on his return.
Bill returned to the Virgin Islands in 1959. Launching a third
career, that of businessman, he built up his Westindy Music Corp.
as a music publishing company, recording label and parent company
to four music stores, Music Man I, II and III and The Guitar Lady.
The last named is run by his wife, the former Joyce Anduze. Their
son, Leroy, has worked at his father's side for several years.
It was impossible for Bill to live and work in the Virgin Islands
without becoming deeply involved in local affairs. His deep sense of
caring for his native land would not permit it. In politics, he occu-
pied a behind-the-scenes role, although he was elected a delegate
to the Third Constitutional Convention in 1978.
He was president of the St. Thomas St. John Chamber of Com-
merce at his death and had only recently resigned from the board
of directors of the Virgin Islands Water and Power Authority. He
had also served on the Virgin Islands Council on the Arts, the Small
Business Advisory Council and lent his time generously to many
Bill was never one to shirk his responsibility to speak out on
issues of community importance. His biting wit and insistence on
excellence and the good of the community shone through in con-
versations, letters to the editor and remarks before the groups with
which he worked. As a result, he was honored many times by the
Tenth Legislature, the Council on the Arts and the Small Business
Administration, being one of a select group of businessmen along
with his wife honored at the White House in 1977.
Despite illness, Bill worked for his community until the end,
having attended a meeting of an ad hoc group on the Virgin Islands
power crisis the night of his final illness, October 7, 1980. He died
in the early hours of the following morning. Tributes quickly poured
in from all sectors of the community.
He is survived by his wife, Joyce; son, Leroy; a daughter, Elisa,
by an earlier marriage; five brothers: Orville, Lawrence, Raymond,
Reuben, and John; and two sisters, Dorothy LaMotta Armstrong
and Isabelle LaMotta Barbel.
ORDER OF SERVICE
by Bill LaMotta
"Prayer for the Virgin Islands"
by Bill LaMotta
"Have You Thanked the Lord"
by Bill LaMotta
.. .Caribbean Chorale
The Twenty-Third Psalm
.. Isaiah 25:6-9
"How Great Thou Art"
... Revelation 21:2-7
"Just a Closer Walk with Thee"
S.. Ariel Melchior, Sr.
"Lift Every Voice and Sing"
Dean Thomas W. Gibbs III
"Ye Holy Angels Bright"
by Bill LaMotta
Leo Barbel, Sr., John LaMotta, Lawrence LaMotta,
Leroy LaMotta, Mark LaMotta, Orville LaMotta,
Raymond LaMotta, Reuben LaMotta
Luther Benjamin, Thomas P. Bennett, Robert deJongh,
Rudolph Francis, Ariel Melchior, Jr., Leslie Milliner,
Mel Plaskett, Klavs Thomsen
t is incredible how often we fail to recognize the inestimable
value of some of our fellow men and women, until they are
no longer with us. While many of us have been aware of the great
contributions of Bill LaMotta in the fields of business, engineering
and music, as well as a civic leader, one can easily perceive that the
entire community realizes that with the suddeness of a bolt of light-
ning, an unusually talented, brilliant, honest and devoted leader
has been taken away. In his devotion and dedication to a better
Virgin Islands, Bill not only gave of himself but really gave himself,
in his constant pursuit of his goal of a better Virgin Islands.
As we pray for the repose of his soul, let us hope that his life's
work may serve as an inspiration to the rest of us, to try as best we
can to serve as Bill did. Truly, there could be no better monument
to a great man, an outstanding leader and above all, a good man.
Henry A. Million. Lt. Governor of the Virgin Islands
A close friendship has existed between our family and the La
Mottas as far back as 1914. Wilbur was a good musician and
businessman; a good citizen who sacrificed his life in trying to over-
come the problems of a community he loved so dearly. I will always
remember and cherish his genuine friendship and contributions to
the cultural life of the Virgin Islands. My condolences to his good
wife, Joyce, and the entire LaMotta family.
Alton A. Adams. Sr.. Litt.D
The passing of Bill LaMotta is a profound loss to the entire
community. Specifically, it is a blow to the private business
sector. At a time when political leaders seem unaware of what our
economy is and how it operates, what makes it flourish and what
makes it decline, Bill tried to tell them.
Bill was an articulate man. He spoke out boldly and fearlessly.
He had guts, a commodity not too abundant in our community.
In recent weeks, Bill got many things off his chest. He spoke of
his frustrations in public service. He offered solutions to many
of our critical problems.
His demise may dramatize and re-emphasize his statements; may
make one and all take a second look at the depth and wisdom of
his perception. Bill had many friends. We who loved him and
respected him will miss him. .idor Paiewonsky
To My Friend Bill:
The poet said "I am a man, and whatever concerns humanity is
of interest to me." This poet expressed very clearly how you
felt towards your fellowman. I have planned with you, worked with
you and enjoyed a most rewarding friendship with you. During these
times you exhibited those qualities which made me realize that you
were indeed an example of the kind of leader, musician, business-
man, and citizen which our community needs if it is to survive.
We shared many of the same desires: to create and perform mu-
sically; to give to our community whatever we can; to help and edu-
cate our youth; to keep our culture and heritage alive; to enjoy life,
and we both love the sea.
Bill, many of our musical plans will never be a reality, but I pledge
to you that I will continue to le.t your music ring as we of the Carib-
bean Chorale lift our voices and sing.
Those of us you have left behind to continue your fight know this
truth, that no evil can happen to a good man either in life or after
You knew that music is the harmonious voice of creation; an echo
of the invisible world; one note of the divine concord which the en-
tire universe is destined one day to sound. Farewell,
Larry Benjamin. Director. Caribbean Chorale
rr he death of Bill LaMotta is an extreme loss to our commu-
1 nity in so many, many ways. He was a Virgin Islander, whose
love and caring for our islands and its people will continue with them
long after his passing. Through his music, and through his many civic
activities, he expressed his intense desire for the islands to be as
special to everyone as they were to him.
This was reflected in his dedicated efforts in such varied organiza-
tions as the Virgin Islands Arts Council, the Virgin Islands Board of
Land Use Appeals, the Virgin Islands Water and Power Authority,
the U.S. Smail Business Administration, and our local Chamber of
His dynamic leadership in the Chamber of Commerce has brought
the business sector closer than ever to the rest of our island in a real
partnership for a better way of life for us all.
On behalf of the entire business community, we offer our deep
and sincere condolences to his wife and family.
Margaret L. Creque. St. Thomas St. John Chamber of Commerce
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September 5, 1980
Mr. Wilbur L. Motta
President, Westindy Music Company, Inc.
86 Main Street
St. Thomas, Virgin Islands 00801
It is with great pleasure that I inform you on behalf of the Alumni
Association that you have been selected to receive a Special Alumni Award.
I sincerely hope that you and your wife can be present to personally receive
your award at the '80 Homecoming Awards Dinner. The dinner will be held
on Friday, October 17th, in the dining room in the Academy Officers' Club.
Cocktails at 1900 with dinner to be served at 2000.
Mr. Lane Kirkland, President of the AFL-CIK,. the 1980 Alumnus of
the Year, will be the guest of honor.
I also hope you will plan to stay over for the Regimental Review,
football game and other Homecoming festivities on Saturday. A full
schedule of events is enclosed.
I woold appreciate your sending a biographical sketch to Captain
Charles M. Renick, USMS at the Academy and your confirmation that you
will be able to attend the Awards Dinner.
e H. Yocu