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Friday 25 May 2018
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Final goodbye to Max: Late president’s ashes scattered in Gulf of Paria

Dr Jean Ramjohn Richards pours the ashes of her husband, the late president George Maxwell-Richards, into the sea as CEO of Belgroves Funeral Home Keith Belgroves, right, her son Mark, and daughter Maxine (at back) support her aboard the TTS Moruga, on the Gulf of Paria, off San Fernando at sunset on Friday. Photo courtesy Curtis Khan

The members of the Richards family said their final goodbyes to their husband, father, brother and uncle, and the country’s fourth president as his ashes were spread on the waters of the Gulf of Paria on Friday evening.

The family of George Maxwell Richards boarded the Coast Guard vessel, the TTS Moruga at the International Waterfront in Port of Spain around 3 pm and went to the Gulf of Paria in view of the San Fernando Hills.

There, his widow, Dr Jean Ramjohn-Richards and his two children, Maxine and Dr Mark Richards, poured the ashes into the water as the sun set.

“He is from San Fernando and he always said he wanted his ashes scattered in the Gulf of Paria close to San Fernando.

And he always wanted to be cremated because he said it was so clean as opposed to being buried,” Maxine told Sunday Newsday during a telephone interview.

She described the atmosphere as very sombre as a few members of the Southernaires Choir sang for the group which included Mark’s wife, Dr Maryam Richards; Ramjohn-Richards’ sister, Gloria Ramjohn; Gloria’s son, Nigel Marquez; Rev Joy Abdul of the Presbyterian church; and a few friends.

“He loved champagne so we threw some in after the ashes. It was all just so final but as the sun set, his ashes went out.”

She added that they family retained some of the ashes to be buried at the University of the West Indies, St Augustine campus, which would be done 40 days after his death.

Richards died on January 8 after suffering a heart attack and his funeral was held at the National Academy for the Performing Arts, Port of Spain last Wednesday. Maxine said her father would have been smiling at the send off as he loved music and had a special love for the Lydian Singers.

“Every song that was played was something he had wanted. We thought the best way to have the funeral was like a musical tribute to my father.

The hallelujah chorus performed with the tassa was one of his favourites.”

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