Celebrating the Life of Theobald Derrick Bonaparte: 6 August  1957- 11 March 2024

Mixcollage 26 Mar 2024 06 54 Pm 9436
Theobald Derrick Bonaparte, aka DJ Happy Smiles (photo: courtesy of Subrina Hall-Azih)
It is with heavy hearts that we announce the passing of The Late Great Theobald Derrick Bonaparte, aka DJ Happy Smiles, a beloved husband, brother, uncle, friend, stepfather and grandpa who peacefully departed from this world at age 67 on 11 March 2024. Theo’s journey began on the Spice Island of Grenada, where he was born to Theordore Bertrand and Rita Bonaparte on 6 August 1957. He later migrated south to Trinidad and Tobago where he found solace and a loving home under the care of his elder sister Yvonne, whom he credited for his conservative upbringing, instilling in him the values of integrity, compassion and resilience. Theo then migrated to the United States where he lived with his sister Mary before moving to his own apartment in Brooklyn NY. Shortly after, Theo met Ann Marie on a beautiful summer day in Brooklyn at the bus stop after striking up a conversation. They both fell in love before getting married a few years later in the summer of 2005.


Throughout his life, Theo was a pillar of kindness to all who knew him. He dedicated himself to his family and his work. His decisive demeanor, coupled with unwavering moral compass, left a lasting impression on everyone he encountered. Theo aka “DJ Happy Smiles” loved his retro or back-in-times music. He was a professional when it came to mixing music and it made him happy.


Theo’s legacy extends beyond his familial bonds. He was a cherished member of the community and loved by many. He was known for his generosity and willingness to lend a helping hand to those in need. His passion for life was infectious, and he approached each day with a sense of gratitude and humility. However, Theo never minced words and was never afraid to be honest. “He told people like it is” as we say in the Caribbean. He didn’t care if you were offended by the truth, he just simply let you have it the way he saw it, period. He will always be remembered and respected for it.


In his leisure time, Theo enjoyed the simple pleasures of life, whether it was hanging out at the bar with his buddies, sharing stories with loved ones, or enjoying his favourite meal. He really loved his “Trini curry goat and roti”. He found joy in the little things and taught us all the importance of cherishing the moment. He was absolutely photogenic and took a lot of selfies. He was the most dedicated and industrious employee anywhere he worked, never taking a day off or taking vacations and was never later to work in more than 5 years.


Theo will be deeply missed by his sisters, Mary and Yvonne, his brothers Dumbar and Aden and his beloved wife Ann Marie. He will also be missed by his extended family and in-laws, nieces and nephews, step-daughters, grand-children and friends. Although he may no longer walk among us in the flesh, his spirit will continue to live in the memories and hearts of those he touched.

And for many of you who are internalizing the pain of this los or asking why God created this suffering, the answer is this, as the Apostle Paul writes in 2 Corinthians 4:17-18, “For this light momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison, as we look not to the things that are seen but to the things that are unseen. For the things that are seen are transient, but the things that are unseen are eternal.”


Suffering in this life is allowed by a loving God because He is preparing us for an incomparable weight of glory in eternity through it. Enduring uncovers our contaminations and questions. In a sense, we can only understand that God is good through suffering. We can learn more about Him only by allowing ourselves to suffer through the pain.


Therefore, rather than asking, “Why would a good God permit suffering?” Let’s reframe our thoughts to say, “How loving of God to allow me to suffer, and therefore know Him and prepare me for the weight of glory” instead.


Rest in peace, dear Theo. Your kindness, warmth, and wisdom will forever be in our hearts and cherished in our memories.


Subrina Hall-Azih is a Trinidadian educator living in the United States.

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