“Honesty, sincerity, simplicity, humility, pure generosity, absence of vanity, readiness to serve others – qualities which are within reach of every soul – are the foundation of one’s spiritual life.”
This quote by Nelson Mandela from his book Conversations with Myself aptly describes a son and daughter of Arima who passed away a day apart this month. Priscilla Mary Trotman died on March 17. She was 62. Maxie Andrew Assee died on March 18. He would have been 95 on October 17.
Maxie, as he was fondly called by Arimians, was described by Brian Brooks, former Arima Boys' RC school principal, in his eulogy as a “son, father, husband, uncle, friend, entrepreneur, footballer, cricketer and coach in each field, jockey, groom, boxing coach, pioneer, comedian, Carnival bandleader and masquerader and much more.”
Accolades on Mary were almost similar as echoed by her cousin Beverly Trotman, who said she lived a life in three categories – food, service and sports.
While Maxie was known as the Chinese man riding his bike throughout Arima, Mary was described as “the godmother” at Pinto and Maturita villages.
Both had unique similarities as far as service to the people was concerned. Maxie was known as a keen sportsman, having been involved in almost all the sporting activities in his day, and as a mentor to the students at Arima Boys' RC.
Mary was chaperone to the young people in the Pinto/Maturita areas, having worked her way up in the community from being a foundation member of the Maturita Youth Group, to the People’s National Movement (PNM) councillor for Santa Rosa/Blanchisseuse in the Tunapuna/Piarco Regional Corporation for seven years.
Maxie did not enter politics, but was highly respected by the elected members of the Arima Borough Council from both political parties, having been honoured by the council at the borough’s annual celebration, the Community Welfare Council and other organisations including the Arima Race Club. He was honoured when a street in phase four Malabar was named after him.
Mary’s residence on Pinto Road was virtually a home to hundreds of youths, especially cricketers and footballers who always went to her house after games to enjoy her delicious cooking because she was known for her "sweet hand". Due to her keen interest in sport, her son, the late Mickey Trotman, went on to represent Trinidad and Tobago in football.
Mickey and his brother Stephen died in a vehicular accident on Pinto Road 20 years ago.
Undaunted by the tragic loss of her sons, Mary’s continued involvement in sports saw her daughter Oire representing Trinidad and Tobago in hockey.
Maxie’s family, which consists of the Edwards, also made a significant contribution to community and sports in Arima and the country.
His eldest niece, Hyacinth, played netball for TT, while nephew Elvin, represented the national under-21 cricket team against Australia, and Elvin’s son also played for the under-19 football team. Elvin went on to be an Arima mayor and spoke of the influence his uncle had in moulding him to be an all-rounder in politics and sport. Maxie’s other nephews featured as regular players for clubs in Arima in football and cricket.
At Pinto, the Mickey Trotman Recreation Ground is named after Mary's son.
As a representative, Mary was known to serve with such humility that she was available to her constituents "seven-eleven". She became a household name because she attended to issues in her district in a timely manner, and responded to numerous emergency calls from the residents.
Another significant feature in Mary’s activities was the tremendous support she received from her family, especially from her sisters, Joan and Llwellyn.
At her funeral glowing tributes were paid to Mary from home and abroad, including from Arima MP Pennelope Beckles-Robinson.
For Maxie, MP Beckles-Robinson was joined by D'Abadie/O'Meara MP Lisa Morris-Julian and Arima Mayor Cagney Cassimere, in paying tribute to the pint-sized Arimian.
As testimony to Maxie’s popularity, Fr Dwight Black, who officiated at the funeral, and is from Tobago, confessed that he never met Maxie, but saw him on many occasions riding his bike in Arima.
The deaths of Maxie and Mary saw an outpouring of love and appreciation to two outstanding Arimians. These unlettered heroes were sterling examples of human decency, working for the good of their community out of love, and not for financial reward.
Now is an appropriate time to consider the need for an indoor sporting complex, improved facilities at the municipal stadium, an upgrade of the cricket field at the Larry Gomes enclosure, and recognition of the outstanding achievements of Arima sports personalities, especially as many youths are being led astray and have limited access to facilities where they can channel their energies. It is regrettable therefore that there was a deafening silence from the Ministry of Sports on the deaths of former Arimians and national sports personalities, Prince Bartholomew, Sheldon Gomes (cricket), Dr Cliff Bertrand, and Winston Shortt (track and field), all of whom died within recent times.
Also being discussed is the perception that perhaps deliberately, Arimians are not featured on the National Awards list, for reasons unknown. After all, it took 27 years to recognise and honour the heroic actions of Jones P Madeira during 1990’s attempted coup, such that he would eventually receive the Chaconia Gold Medal in 2017.
Maxie Assee and Mary Trotman, all Arimians salute you for your service and loyalty.
Ashton Ford is a former Arima mayor and MP.