Joseph Phillip Wardally was born Nov. 6, 1945, to the late Lloyd Lincoln Salim and Evelyn Beryl Wardally in Tivoli, St. Andrews, Grenada West Indies. Everyone who knew Joseph knew him as “Earl,” the nickname given to him by his family, who would later give him the additional nickname “Chunky.”
Wardally was a proud graduate of Presentation Brothers College, where he made lifelong friendships. Throughout his life, he continued to support the school’s efforts. Upon graduation, Wardally went to New York City to attend RCA Institute (now TCI Institute), where he earned a degree in electronics and began a 30-plus-year career in market research and data processing.
Education wasn’t the only thing on Wardally’s mind. The same year he arrived in New York City, he met and married the love of his life, Catherine Blakeley (a Jamaican native and Harlem resident). Clearly, Wardally wasted no time. The couple had one son, Kevin Phillip, who they raised in Harlem. Wardally’s marriage to Catherine was a loving affair until her passing in 1993.
Harlem was the other love of Wardally’s life, especially Lenox Avenue. His love for the community earned him the title “Mayor of Lenox Avenue.” For over 20 years, Wardally could be found standing on Lenox and 140th Street in front of the green gates of Delano Village every day after work. He would talk to his neighbors and his friends—essentially all of Harlem.
In 1995, Wardally and his son moved to 127th Street. The 15-block move made no difference; Wardally was still the mayor, and for the next 18 years, 125th and Lenox became his daily hangout. There, he resumed his duties of greeting and talking to people about everyone and everything that made Harlem what it is.
Of course, Wardally did this in style. You could always find him wearing one of his signature Stetson hats and cowboy boots. But Wardally wasn’t only a stylish man; he was also a family man. He loved and cherished his son, and was extremely proud of his son’s accomplishments. Wardally loved his grandchildren, Emerson and Qiana, and he talked about them every chance he could.
Earl Wardally will live on in the hearts and memories of all his loved ones: his Uncle Foggarty; siblings Francis, John, Christine, Joan, Lauren, Selwyn, Patsy, Claudette, Terry, Valerie, Chirmaine and Leroy; his daughter-in-law Adaku; a host of nieces, nephews and cousins; and his very special friends. He will be greatly missed by his family and friends and by the Harlem community he so loved.