The passing of Former President, Professor George Maxwell Richards, has robbed Trinidad and Tobago and the Caribbean of an elder statesman, academic, cultural patron and gentleman.
Professor Richards served his beloved country for generations in various capacities with quiet dignity and aplomb, and earned respect for his knowledge and expertise and his personal warmth.
The fact that Professor Richards was Head of State for a decade from 2003 is a testament to the enormous value he brought to the presidency and the esteem in which he was held by the nation. He symbolised stability and strength, grace and charm.
He was previously a pioneering Principal of the St. Augustine Campus of the University of the West Indies. As a campus student of that period, I recall the progressive academic and administrative changes he fashioned. I urge the organisers of this weekend’s UWI Carnival Fete to honour the memory of the departed principal, who was also a stalwart of the national festival.
Indeed, Professor Richards was a long-serving dedicated Carnival participant. His passing will leave a huge void.
My own fond recollections of him included his attendance at my wedding ceremony the day before his inauguration as President in 2003. In his ever-graceful manner, he gave marital advice and generously spent time with guests.
Trinidad and Tobago and the Caribbean are poorer because of the former president's passing. But we will always be consoled in appreciating the large body of his life’s work and his genial and welcoming personality.
He was the quintessential Caribbean man.
May he rest in peace.