Today, Amandala learned of the passing of Mervin Horace Bennett J.P. (Sr), also known as "Brother B."

His common-law wife, Yvonne Pattico, spoke candidly with us about Merv, as she affectionately called him.

Merv was born on April 27, 1941; he, along with his siblings, came from humble beginnings and worked hard and honestly to achieve their many accomplishments. Many patrons of the now defunct Palace Theatre may remember that he and his siblings used to sell right outside the theatre's viewing room.

Merv lived in the U.S. for many years and was a dental technician for many years; he worked alongside his brother and well-known dentist, Dr. Christopher Bennett.

"Brother B", along with Rene Villanueva, Sr., was greatly involved with and in charge of the carnival some years ago. In fact, "Brother B" was the one who brought carnival participants from Trinidad and Tobago to Belize, and held a series of workshops teaching Belizeans how to make their own carnival costumes.

Pattico also told us of the many accomplishments "Brother B" had achieved; he was a Senior Justice of the Peace, member of the Belize Lions Club, member of the Board of Directors for Salvation Army, dental laboratory technician, member of the ex-Servicemen League, member of Tony Wright's Belizean Musician Past and Present, co-founder of the Belize Carnival Association New York, and member of the Grand United order of Odd Fellows.

"Brother B" always put one hundred and fifty percent of himself into everything he did, and his many accomplishments are a testimony to that and the very high standards that he set for himself.

Football fans are sure to remember the team - Brown's Bombers. "Brother B" used to always say "when the Brown's Bombers played, you can bet all your money, you will never lose a penny!"

About three years ago, Merv started experiencing some breathing problems; a visit to the doctor revealed that he was suffering from Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD), and thereafter was on a nebulizer for some time.

The illness began to limit his activities due to the fact that he would have trouble breathing. The doctors then started to test him for a series of other illnesses, including one for his prostate, but all those tests had negative results.

But Merv's health started to decline, and finally, in 2011, Pattico suggested that he return to the U.S. for extensive testing to verify the cause of his frailty.

Merv departed for the U.S. on June 27, 2011, and two weeks later, he was diagnosed with colon cancer. After about a month and a half of learning he had cancer, the doctors informed him that the cancer had spread; a few months later, they realized that it had spread even more.

Doctors in the U.S. then gave him about six months to live; he was on a lot of medication and receiving chemotherapy, but Merv realized that his health was progressively getting worse. That's when he decided that he didn't want to die in America; he wanted to come back home to Belize to live out his last days.

He returned home on January 27, 2012, and was doing well for a few weeks. But then he started having some extensions on his stomach; he was taken to see the doctor, who at first, thought that it was gas. It was discovered, however, that he was having some complications from a colostomy he had received and was then informed that an emergency bypass surgery had to be done immediately to correct the matter; he was also then told that the chances of the surgery being successful were fifty-fifty.

On Sunday, February 12, the operation was done and Merv came home from the hospital that Friday. Pattico quit her job and with the assistance of her daughter (she and Merv didn't have any children together), they took care of him. He had good days and he had bad days, but Merv quietly passed away at home on February 23, 2012.

Yvonne Pattico shared some memories of Merv when he was in better spirits; one of those moments was when he was in the hospital in the U.S., he jokingly asked a nurse to please bring him a drink of rum and water.

She also reminisced that Merv had endorsed Hon. Mark Espat for the last three terms he had run for elections. And when the election's day would roll around, he would leave the house with a broom in hand because he said that "Mark would sweep the election clean!"

Mervin Bennett is survived by his common-law wife - Yvonne Pattico; two sons - Sergeant Mervin Bennett, Jr., and Bernard Bennett; one daughter - Kenyatta Bennett, all of the U.S.A.; two sisters - Lorraine Bennett Singleton of the U.S.A., and Jean Miguel; five brothers - Allan and Edward of the U.S.A., Dr. Christopher Bennett, Winston and Roystand Bennett; four step-children - Nurse Sister Yvette Mossiah, Michelle Smith, Kerwin and Dwayne of the U.S.A.; nine grandchildren and a host of nieces, nephews, cousins, relatives and friends.

Funeral services for Mervin Bennett will take place on Monday March 5, 2012 at the St. John's Cathedral Church on Albert Street; his body will lie in state at 1:00 p.m. for funeral services at 2:00 p.m. His body will be interred at the Lord's Ridge Cemetery.

There will be no wake, but a repast will be held at the family's house located on Albert Street.

Amandala extends its deepest sympathies to the family of Mervin Bennett.

(Note: COPD is a serious lung disease that, over time, makes it hard to breathe. This occurs when the tubes that carry air in and out of the lungs are partially blocked.

A colostomy is a surgical procedure in which a stoma is formed by drawing the healthy end of the large intestine or colon through an incision in the anterior abdominal wall and suturing it into place. This opening, in conjunction with the attached stoma appliance, provides an alternative channel for feces to leave the body.)