It was truly a celebration of the life of former Chief Justice Cecil Arthur Kelsick yesterday as family, friends, and colleagues recounted their experiences with and recollections of the late judge.
Despite his many accomplishments throughout his career, it was his compassion for others, his love for his family, and his devotion to God that stood out in testimonies during his funeral at All Saints Church, Marli Street, Port-of-Spain.
During the eulogy, daughter Valerie Kelsick said her father was a very private man but said, “In our quest to document his life, we were immediately struck by the consistency of his journey – a life of faith, commitment to family, civic duty, and a deep passion for the Lord.”
Son Rawle Kelsick said his father encouraged family members to strive for excellence and provide resources to meet their goals. He also got hooked on the soap opera, the Young and the Restless when he retired, and was known to be absent-minded.
Rawle related a time his parents were going to a function. As usual, his late mother, Sonia, opened the gate for Kelsick to drive the car out of their driveway before closing it to join her husband in the car. It was only when Kelsick arrived at his destination when he realised he had driven off and left his wife at home.
Demonstrating Kelsick’s faith, eldest daughter, Maureen Power, told the congregation her father majored in law but minored in theology at school, and his children would often see him kneeling at his bedside praying. She said even though her father was a staunch Anglican and her mother a staunch Catholic, they were united in loving God, their children, and in their decisions.
Maureen also told the story of the time she left Trinidad for university in Virginia and Kelsick went with her to help her settle in. She recalled that, when he was leaving her, he told her to make sure to pray. That even though the school did not have an Anglican church nearby, she should go to the Episcopalian chapel on campus and said, “It’s okay. God wouldn’t mind.” The siblings left those in the audience laughing, nodding in agreement, and remembering the warmth of the man to whom they came to say goodbye.
In his tribute, Attorney General Faris Al-Rawi said Kelsick, 97, distinguished himself as a human being and described his life as “fulsome and excellent.” He explained that his mother’s father was a friend of Kelsick and Sonia so their families were intertwined.
Al-Rawi said he asked his mother, Diane Seukeran, to describe the families’ interaction and she described Kelsick as “soft spoken, old-school chivalry, strong values, warm smile... quiet and gentle on the outside, but strong and principled under that humble veneer. The steel showed when it was necessary.”
Chief Justice Ivor Archie said he mostly knew Kelsick through Kelsick’s judgements and speeches, and by attending judiciary functions. “I became very fond of him during his retirement because he remained a valued member and staunch supporter of the judiciary family.”
Archie said Kelsick was born in Dominica, grew up in Montserrat, practised in the Leeward Islands, was crowned an attorney of Antigua, and was acting Attorney General of the Windward Islands. He said despite Kelsick’s accomplishments, the man was charming, gracious, and pleasant – that he was always a gentleman, and a gentle man. While keeping the mood positive, Retired Diocesan Bishop, The Right Reverend Clive Abdulah took a more serious angle. He said life in this world was a constant struggle and it was never easy to be who you were, especially for those who walk with Christ. However he said those people should never give up because it was a life full of God’s blessings and deep joy. “If God is for us, who then can be against us?” he asked. Abdulah said death was a continuation of life’s journey but without the pain, grief, difficulties, struggles and disappointments of this earthly existence.
Attendees included President Anthony Carmona; Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley; Senate President Christine Kangaloo; Speaker Brigid Annisette-George; Douglas Mendes SC, president of the Law Association; and former Minister of National Security, Brigadier General Carl Alfonso.
The service’s collection was for hurricane relief for Dominica, Kelsick’s place of birth, and the Scout Association.