Sidney Poitier's Family Issues Statement on His Death: 'He Is Our Guiding Light'

"He will live on in us, his grandchildren and great-grandchildren," the Poitier family said in a statement issued to PEOPLE following the Oscar winner's death on Thursday evening
Sidney Poitier
Credit: Jason Kempin/Getty

's family is mourning of their "guiding light."

"There are no words to convey the deep sense of loss and sadness we are feeling right now. We are so grateful he was able to spend his last day surrounded by his family and friends," reads a statement issued to PEOPLE by publicist Mara Buxbaum on Friday on behalf of the Poitier family.

"To us Sidney Poitier was not only a brilliant actor, activist, and a man of incredible grace and moral fortitude, he was also a devoted and loving husband, a supportive and adoring father, and a man who always put family first," the statement continues. 

Credit: Ken Hively/Los Angeles Times via Getty

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"He is our guiding light who lit up our lives with infinite love and wonder. His smile was healing, his hugs the warmest refuge, and his laughter was infectious. We could always turn to him for wisdom and solace and his absence feels like a giant hole in our family and 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 on in us, his grandchildren and great-grandchildren — in every belly laugh, every curious inquiry, every act of compassion and kindness," the statement says. "His legacy will live on in the world, continuing to inspire not only with his incredible body of work, but even more so with his humanity.

"We would like to extend our deepest appreciation to every single one of you for the outpouring of love from around the world. So many have been touched by our dad's extraordinary life, his unwavering sense of decency and respect for his fellow man. His faith in humanity never faltered, so know that for all the love you've shown him, he loved you back," the statement concludes.

RELATED VIDEO: Sidney Poitier, First Black Man to Win Best Actor Oscar and a Titan of Cinema, Dead at 94

Clint Watson, press secretary for the Prime Minister of the Bahamas, confirmed Poitier's death to PEOPLE on Friday. The actor and activist died Thursday evening at age 94.

Poitier was the first Black man to receive an Oscar for Best Actor for his role in the 1963 film Lilies of the Field

Thanks to his impressive, decades-long career in Hollywood, Poitier received BAFTA's lifetime achievement award in 2016. "My wife and children mean the most to me," after accepting the honor. 

Poitier is survived by his wife Joanna Shimkus as well as five daughters: Beverly, Pamela, Sherri, Anika and Sydney. His daughter Gina Poitier died in 2018.


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