Sidney Poitier’s family remembered the Hollywood giant as a humanitarian, a leader and a devoted artist in a statement released Friday night, the day after his death at the age of 94.
The actor, who became the first black person to win the Oscar for leading actor with 1963’s “Lilies of the Field,” died at his home in Los Angeles on January 6. Poitier was Hollywood’s first big black box office star, constantly breaking ground. with film roles such as Dr. John Wade Prentice in “Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner” and Mark Thackeray in “To Sir, With Love,” as well as his activism at the heart of the civil rights era. Along with many prominent Hollywood figures, her family reflected on her legacy of art and compassion.
“There are no words to convey the deep sense of loss and sadness that we are feeling right now. We are very grateful that he was able to spend his last day surrounded by his family and friends, ”the statement read. “To us, Sidney Poitier was not only a brilliant actor, activist and a man of incredible grace and moral strength, he was also a devoted and loving husband, a supportive and adoring father, and a man who always put family first. He is our guiding light that illuminated our lives with infinite love and wonder. His smile healed, his hugs the warmest refuge and his infectious laugh. We could always turn to him for wisdom and comfort, and his absence feels like a giant hole in our family and in our hearts. Although he is no longer here with us in this realm, his beautiful soul will continue to guide and inspire us. He will live in us, his grandchildren and great-grandchildren, in every laugh, every curious question, every act of compassion and kindness. His legacy will live on in the world, and he will continue to inspire not only with his incredible work, but even more with his humanity. “
“We would like to extend our deepest appreciation to each of you for the outpouring of love from around the world,” the family continued. “Many have been touched by the extraordinary life of our father, his unwavering sense of decency and respect for his fellow man. His faith in humanity never wavered, so you should know that despite all the love you’ve shown him, he loves you too. “