Former President of the Republic Professor George Maxwell Richards has died. News of Richards’ passing was posted on the Facebook page of his daughter Maxine last night. The post read, “Rest in peace Daddy. I still can’t believe you are gone.” Reports said Richards was taken to West Shore Medical Centre last night after suffering a heart attack.
The reports said 86-year-old Richards passed away at the hospital. Richards served as President from March 7, 2003 to March 17, 2013. He was a former principal of the University of the West Indies St Augustine Campus. He was married to Dr Jean Ramjohn Richards and had two children, Maxine and Mark.
Reacting to the news of Richards’ passing, Minister in the Office of the Prime Minister Stuart Young extended deepest condolences to Richards’ family on behalf of the Government and his own family’s behalf.
“Our prayers are with the family,” Young said. Recalling that Richards served the country as President and UWI principal, Young said, “We thank him and his family for his many years of service.” Opposition Chief Whip David Lee extended the Opposition’s condolences to Richards’ family. Lee said it was “sad and ironic” that earlier in the day, Government and the Opposition co-signed the nomination paper for retired Court of Appeal judge Paula Mae Weekes to become this country’s next President. He said it was with “a heavy heart” that the country is learning of Richards’ passing. Lee said Richards served this country in good standing as President and in academia. Lee said the Opposition’s thoughts and prayers are with Richards’ family at this time.
Richards was born in San Fernando on December 1, 1931. He was a student at Queen’s Royal College in Port of Spain. From 1950 to 1951, he worked for the United British Oilfields of Trinidad (precursor to Shell Trinidad Ltd.) at Point Fortin. He received a scholarship from them to study chemical engineering. Richards then attended the University of Manchester (UMIST), where he took a BEng degree (1955) and an MEng degree (1957). He subsequently obtained a PhD degree in Chemical Engineering from the University of Cambridge (Pembroke).
Richards returned to Trinidad and worked for Shell Trinidad Ltd from 1957 to 1965 before joining the Department of Chemical Engineering at the UWI. From 1980 to 1985 Richards served as pro-vice-chancellor and deputy principal of the University. He served as acting principal of the St. Augustine Campus from 1984 to 1985, and was confirmed in the position in 1985. He retired as principal in 1996 but continued to lecture at UWI.
Richards also served on the board of several companies, including Trintoc (now Petrotrin), the National Gas Company and the Trinidad Publishing Company. As President, Richards was outspoken in his criticism of the upsurge of crime in TT. He is also well known for his love for Carnival and involvement in it.