‘Zandrea’s fight an inspiration to all’ - Pageant beauty gets glowing send-off
Remembered as much for her guts as her gusto, Zandrea Sidi-Al Bailey’s zest for life was equalled only by her dignity in death, friends and family told mourners, memories lighting up the Ocho Rios Baptist Church on Saturday.
Bailey, the late former Miss Universe Jamaica finalist and Westwood old girl, was eulogised by her father, Al, and praised for her indomitable spirit by several speakers.
Growing up in the Baptist Church, Zandrea had become a Christian at a tender age and it was only fitting that the church, through Deacon Samuel Bowen, paid tribute.
“The story of her great fight would become an inspiration to others,” Bowen noted of the pageant contestant, who died of lupus on January 13. “She never felt abandoned by God. She enjoyed life but was never afraid to die. Zandrea, you are home. Rest in peace, rest in peace.”
Delroy Bennett and his family set out early on Saturday morning to cover the 100-plus miles from St Elizabeth to St Ann, reaching the Ocho Rios Baptist Church before the 11 a.m. start of the service of thanksgiving.
Bennett, Zandrea’s uncle, told The Gleaner that his niece’s mom, affectionately called Sidi, and who died from lupus, was his favourite sister, so he had to be there.
“I have to come because it’s my sister’s child, my favourite sister, Sidi. She passed away four years ago, so I have to be here,” Bennett said.
The fact that Zandrea died from the same disease after a seven-year fight might have made it even more compelling.
Arlene Clare, human resource manager of Finson Sharpe Insurance Brokers, hired Zandrea in 2015.
“She was a breath of fresh air. Her selflessness was what impressed me most,” Clare said.
Miss Universe Jamaica franchisee Mark McDermott started the tribute on behalf of the organisation before being joined by Miss Universe Jamaica 2014, Kaci Fennell, and another contestant from that year, Christine Suragh.
“She brought to the pageant a sense of dignity,” McDermott stated, adding: “She lit up the place with her smile. There was beauty not only on the outside, but on the inside.”
An emotional Suragh recalled the encouragement she received from Zandrea at a point when she was about to quit the pageant in 2014 and had to be supported by Fennell.
“I am so grateful to have known her, so happy to have been her friend,” Suragh said.
“She was just a great person, a great soul. She brought life to the pageant,” Fennell recalled.
Al Bailey, in eulogising his daughter, said: “Zan was a fighter from the get-go,” and described how she would stand up for her friends. “She was a fighter in the true sense of the word.”
Bailey thanked the Miss Universe Jamaica organisers for allowing Zandrea to live her dream. He said his daughter knew and trusted God.
“The source of her character was God,” he added.
The family paid tribute in song.
The service began after Bailey entered the church and placed the urn with Zandrea’s ashes on a table wrapped in white.
“It was her wish to be cremated,” he told the church.
Near the table was an easel with two photos of Zandrea, one with tributes written on it. One of the tributes simply said: “Love you auntie, I will always love you. – Ana”
The urn was later placed at her mother’s tomb at the St Ann’s Bay Cemetery.