Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley, Opposition Leader Kamla Persad-Bissessar and Speaker of the House of Representatives, Bridgid Annisette-George, yesterday led tributes for former president Prof George Maxwell Richards in the House yesterday. Richards, 86, died on Monday.
In delivering his tribute, Rowley said, “We acknowledge the passing of one of our distinguished citizens.”
He said Richards was distinguished because he was a contributor to several spheres of life in TT.
Rowley said while people who have made sterling contributions to TT can be identified in the population, “there are few who can demonstrate that kind of contribution moreso than Professor George Maxwell Richards.”
Rowley said he knew Richards when he was a lecturer at the University of the West Indies St Augustine Campus. He said Richards was someone who encouraged him to strive for excellence and many other people can say the same thing.
Rowley said Richards educated himself to the highest level, eventually became UWI principal and was responsible for educating generations of TT’s young people. Recalling that Richards was fondly referred to as “Max,” Rowley said he was such a normal man and this was how many people saw him. As professor or president, Rowley said, Richards gave people words of wisdom and encouragement which provided them with hope. Rowley paid tribute to Richards’ family for supporting him and helping him to serve the nation in the way he did.
Acknowledging the presence of students in the Parliament Chamber, Rowley hoped this country still possessed people like Richards, “who can do for them (young people) what he did for people like me.” Persad-Bissessar recalled first meeting Richards when she graduated from Hugh Wooding Law School in 1986. She recalled interactions with Richards in 2006 and 2010, when she was opposition leader and subsequently prime minister.
Annisette-George praised Richards as an outstanding statesman and patron of the arts.
She said Richards served TT with distinction for over 60 years in various capacities. Annisette-George said advice offered by Richards at ceremonial openings of Parliament were as relevant today as when they were delivered. She added the measure of a man is not in the number of servants he had but the number of people he served.
Annisette-George said the description of a “colossal man” was befitting of Richards.
A state funeral for Richards will take place at the National Academy for the Performing Arts in Port of Spain on Wednesday at 10 am.