Former Senate president Dr Linda Baboolal, 78, died yesterday morning at Mt Hope Hospital, after reportedly suffering from pneumonia.
Politicians from both sides of the aisle paid tribute to her yesterday.
She combined compassion with probity, said the PNM yesterday in a statement by party PRO Laurel Lezama-Lee Sing.
The party recalled she was PNM former chairman (1996-2000), MP for Barataria /San Juan, Cabinet minister (1992-1995) and Senate President (2002-2007.)
“Dr Baboolal, a graduate of the Royal College of Surgeons and Physicians in Dublin, Ireland, distinguished herself not only as an eminent medical practitioner, but more so, as a servant of and for the people,” said the PNM.
As the party’s first and only female chairman, she won a reputation for her “compassion, charm and unswerving moral probity.”
She was also the first female President of the Senate and the first woman to act as President of the Republic, a post now held substantively by Paula-Mae Weekes.
The PNM joined the nation in prayer for the repose of her soul and offered her family, her husband Dr Michael Baboolal and their children and grandchildren, their thoughts and love.
“We are grateful to them for sharing their wife, mother, and grandmother with us and with the wider national community for almost 30 years.
“On behalf of the executive and membership of the People's National Movement, I extend deepest condolences to the Baboolal family. " said Lezama-Lee Sing. "May the Lord comfort them at this time.”
Her son Henry Baboolal, told a radio station, “She was the most honest, loyal, loving, caring, forgiving person in the world. Nothing could sway her to do something wrong.”
He said regularly patients would come into her office and have no money but she would tell them not to worry about it. Henry lightly recalled her often coming home with fruit and vegetables and on one occasion a duck from patients whom she didn’t want to charge money.
Senate President Christine Kangaloo expressed her sorrow but also told Newsday of the legacy Baboolal had left imprinted on the country’s polity.
“I have to tell you, there are so many thoughts and feelings. Paramount right now is a feeling of sadness.
“But I must say that as the first female Senate president she really was an inspiration to women in public life. I thought about the gentleness she brought, but combined with that was also a firmness and toughness that would come out when it was needed.
“As Senate president she also showed an interest in the new, young politicians. She made an effort to have conversations with you. She really made an indelible impression .”
Asked for any special memories, Kangaloo gave a personal recollection of her time as a government senator under Baboolal.
“When I had my health challenges in 2004, she reached out to me on a personal level, as a medical practitioner, just trying to make sure I was healthy: not to take on stress, how to manage yourself. She took the time to go beyond the call of duty. She was president of the Senate but on a very personal level, she showed that she cared.”
Kangaloo said Baboolal is fondly remembered in Parliament, many of whose members had warmly greeted her at a recent parliamentary conference.