Unable to contain her emotions Jean Ramjohn-Richards broke down in tears yesterday, as she viewed the body of her husband and former President George Maxwell Richards at the Parliament lobby in Port-of-Spain.
Overcome with grief, Ramjohn-Richards had to be comforted by her daughter Maxine, who put on a brave face and shoulder of support.
From at 7.30 am yesterday, there was a ceremonial procession of Richards’ body from the Old Fire Station, on Abercromby Street, to the Parliament Building, on Wrightson Road, which led to traffic gridlock in and out of the capital city.
Among the first to view Richards at 10.05 am was Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley who spoke briefly to Ramjohn-Richards before he signed the condolence book and left.
Acting President Christine Kangaloo, Chief Justice Ivor Archie, Opposition Leader Kamla Persad-Bissessar and several of her MPs all offered their sympathies to the widow and her daughter. Richards’ son, Mark, was not present.
After the dignitaries left, Ramjohn-Richards walked across to his casket, which was draped in the national flag.
As she looked down at the casket, she burst into tears.
Ramjohn-Richards was escorted out of the lobby by Speaker Bridgid Annisette-George to an awaiting vehicle which drove off.
Thereafter members of the public who were waiting were invited to pay their final respects to the former president.
In paying tribute to Richards, Persad-Bissessar said during her tenure as prime minister said had reason to call on Richards for advice involving an individual who was on an independent commission after there was a hue and cry about comments that person had made.
She said while some people looked at Richards as a PNM president, Persad-Bissessar he always had a listening ear.
Persad-Bissessar said the advice Richards imparted to her was “you must always be calm, reflect and give due consideration.”
Oropouche MP Dr Roodal Moonilal said it would be most fitting to name an institution after Richards for his invaluable contribution to education and country, while he should be honoured for his love for culture.
Parliamentary Secretary in the National Security Ministry Glenda Jennings-Smith said Richards who was a regular visitor to her Toco/Sangre Grande constituency has left a legacy for our country.
Minister of Social Development and Family Services Cherrie-Ann Crichlow-Cockburn said we can never stop thanking Richards for serving T&T will distinction and honour.