By Orville Williams
Following the unexpected news of her passing, close friends of Nicole Baptiste are remembering her as a kind, compassionate woman who struggled with personal issues later in her life.
Baptiste’s lifeless body was discovered in the Perry Bay area yesterday morning, lying underneath a 40-foot container. According to the police, she was last seen alive at approximately 11pm on Thursday and, while there was no noticeable evidence of foul play, investigations into her death are ongoing.
The 50-year-old entertainer was a popular figure in some sections of the country, with her electric personality and wild demeanour best described as polarising – either you liked her or you didn’t.
She was well-known among those who frequent the lower Market Street area, particularly the vendors, bus and taxi operators and other business people.
Yesterday, Observer visited Market Street and spoke with some of the close friends she spent considerable amounts of time with, especially toward the end of her life.
Her friend Latocia described Baptiste – also known as “Midget” or “Dot” – as kind and compassionate, saying she was always prepared to help those she cared about.
“Nicole was a nice person. She was friendly [and] loving, a person that you could go to and if you had any problems, she would even take you into her home like family.
“She was very nice, so to get this news that’s shocking most people – especially me, because I’m very close to them – is just so sad.
“When I came up the road and was talking to my friend, we still didn’t believe that Nicole [is] actually gone, because she would be right here this morning with us, saying ‘you know what, me haffu go a work now so me can’t talk to allyuh now, me will talk to allyuh later and arwe enjoy arwe-self’”.
In painting an honest picture of Baptiste, Latocia also pointed to one of the ‘not-so-nice’ aspects of her life, saying she had moments where she tended to abuse alcohol. This was one of the recurring points among those who knew her, but something Latocia insisted that they tried, as friends, to get under control.
“There’ll be times where yes, she does love her drinking [and] we have to tell her, ‘Nicole it’s not all the time you should be drinking, you need to [relax]’. But, like I said Nicole was a very nice, loving person and she will always be remembered – especially by me and mostly her daughter, her granddaughter and her friends right here.”
Another of Baptiste’s friends, Elaine – who like her, is originally from Jamaica – explained that they knew each other for many years, with the earlier part of their friendship being some of the best times they shared. She disclosed too, that in the latter part of her life, Baptiste faced some personal disappointments that may have led her on a downward spiral.
“I knew Nicole for a good period of time, many years before she even had her daughter. I knew Nicole as a good person at that time, [someone] who loved her work and her family.
“I never knew Nicole as a drunkard until [times like] Carnival season and there came a time after she got married, where she experienced difficult times with her husband that would [also] lead her to drink. [However], she never stayed out from her home drunk and that sort of thing.
“[As of late], things got more and more out of hand. I don’t know what really caused it, but I know she lost her granddaughter [due to] a certain situation and she talked about her all the time. So, with the frustration and stress – even involving her daughter at times – I believe she just gave up.”
Baptiste’s young daughter was present when Observer spoke to her friends, but she was too distraught at the time to make any comment.