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Thursday 21 November 2019
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‘A loved and well-respected man’

Last rites for former CJ Bernard

LAST TRIP: The flag-draped coffin is brought into the Church of the Assumption in Maraval for the funeral of former chief justice Clinton Bernard. PHOTO BY ROGER JACOB - ROGER JACOB
LAST TRIP: The flag-draped coffin is brought into the Church of the Assumption in Maraval for the funeral of former chief justice Clinton Bernard. PHOTO BY ROGER JACOB - ROGER JACOB

NARISSA FRASER

A great man who was loved and well-respected – that’s how Angela Bernard says her husband will be remembered.

The pews of the Church of the Assumption in Maraval were filled yesterday morning for the funeral service of former chief justice Clinton Bernard.

Many judicial stalwarts were present, including Senate president Christine Kangaloo, Justice Gillian Lucky and Speaker of the House of Representatives Bridgette Anisette-George. President Paula-Mae Weekes, the Prime Minister and Justice of Appeal Allan Mendonca also attended.

Bernard, 89, died at his Westmoorings home on October 26 after ailing for some time. He was chief justice from 1985-1995 and chaired the commission of enquiry into the Piarco International Airport affair, which led to charges against several prominent businessmen.

The eulogy, delivered by his niece Janelle Bernard, spoke of his generosity and humility. She said his home was open to many, and recalled his love for the steelpan. Ace pannist Len “Boogsie” Sharpe also paid tribute with the hymn How Great Thou Art.

A close friend, former senior magistrate Patrick Jagessar, commended Bernard’s work ethic, describing him as hard-working.

He said, “Bernard’s independence as a judge stood out everywhere.

“I said, ‘Why are you being such an independent man?’

“He said, ‘Patrick, the Judiciary for me is a sacred institution, because justice is something very dear to the heart.”

He believed the Lord used Bernard and helped him achieve his purpose on Earth. He also recalled Bernard’s wife predicting he would one day become a Chief Justice.

Just two weeks before Bernard’s death, his friend –another former chief justice – Satnarine Sharma died. Bernard’s widow said when her husband heard the news, he was silent for hours. Many spoke of the strength of their friendship.

Jagessar said, “Sat Sharma and Clinton Bernard were brothers. They were not just colleagues. It is believed he had a tremendous impact on Sat.

“Every day, you would see Clinton and Sat Sharma walking around. Every single day. These men were literally brothers.”

He said the day before Bernard died, he pulled his wife aside, held her hand, and told her how much he loved and appreciated her. He thanked her for support and guidance throughout their relationship.

Speaking with Newsday after the service, his widow said, “The support has been absolutely fantastic. He was a great man. He was loved and well-respected throughout the country.”

When Newsday spoke with her on the day of his death, she said law was his life.

The atmosphere at the funeral was not so much one of grief but rather of respect and appreciation.

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