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‘We would not get another President like him’

Published: 
Tuesday, January 16, 2018

Throngs of people, including school children turned out yesterday at Parliament to pay tribute to the country’s fourth President George Maxwell Richards, who they described as a statesman, exemplar, educator, down-to-earth and grassroots man.

Representing the Carnival band Legacy, Carol St John said she would always remember Richards who religiously came to their band launch with former chief justice Michael de la Bastide.

St John said one year she attended a PNM rally and walked into Legacy’s band launch wearing a red T-shirt with the word emblazoned “red and ready,” which Richards heckled her about.

St John said Richards remained a humble and down-to-earth person even after his term of office as President came to an end in 2013.

“May his soul rest in peace,” St John said, after viewing his body.

Last Monday, Richards died of a heart attack.

His funeral service will take place tomorrow at the National Academy for the Performing Arts, in Port-of-Spain.

There was a steady stream of mourners and members of the public, some of whom were school children and workers who took their lunch hour to bid farewell to Richards’ at the Parliament’s lobby, Port-of-Spain.

Hubert Diaz travelled from Arima with the national flag to say his final farewell to Richards who he described as a statesman.

Having served as a police officer for 46 years, Diaz said he began attending “evening classes” at the University of the West Indies, St Augustine, campus, where Richards was principal.

“This is where I get to know him.”

At the 2006 Fifa World Cup in Germany, Diaz said his friendship with Richards grew as they were guests at the same hotel.

“When we were in Germany there were Trinis who had their little Carnival in the streets and he (Richards) was there with me…I had the national flag where we jumped up in the streets. He was a real gentleman and a God-send president of T&T. He was not this highfalutin type. He was down to earth. He loved people very much,” Diaz said.

Champs Fleurs resident Anthony Crichlow said Richards was a down-to-earth individual who never lost the human touch, even while he held the highest office in the land.

Crichlow said he would always remember Richards who encouraged not only tertiary level students to strive for excellence, but all citizens.

“He was a good man…an exemplar and everybody should follow in his footsteps.”

After spending three hours in traffic on the Solomon Hochoy Highway yesterday, Dexter St Louis said he did not mind, since he wanted to pay his last respects to the man everyone called Max.

“I didn’t know the man personally but I want to tip my hat to him for all that he has done for our nation. He was the last of the Mohicans…we would not get another president like him again. From culture to Carnival, Max was in everything. He lived life to the max and fullest.”

Among the students who viewed Richards’ body was Nelson Street Boys’ RC School.

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