Remembering Richard Joseph

 On July 2nd I was making my way home in the afternoon and as usual, I decided to check Facebook on my phone.  That was when I saw a Facebook message from a member of my old running group with terrible news.  Thinking that an honest mistake was made, I decided to email Mark Bishop and Nestor Lambert from the St Mary’s College Past Students’ Union.  I was blown away when I received confirmation that Richard Andre Joseph, born November 30, 1952, had passed away on Sunday, July 1, 2012.  He would have been only 60 this year.

I returned to Trinidad in 2007 and decided to get involved with the St Mary’s College Past Students’ Union so I joined the Management Committee which Richard Joseph (no relation to me) then Chaired.  He served as President of the Union from 2005 to 2008.  I was vaguely familiar with him through my mother who worked with him in the past, but over time I got to know him and his family quite well.  In 2009, I got involved with the Trinidad and Tobago Transparency Institute in which Richard served as Treasurer before taking the Chair from 2010 to 2012.  Two things I will always remember about Richard would be his incredible humility and his talent for getting along with almost anyone.  Perhaps these two attributes are connected?  I remember chatting with him one evening in the car-park of the Carlton Savannah after a meeting when I confessed how much I admired his people skills, and I asked for his secret.  He explained that none of us were perfect and that we are all struggling with issues so it is important to be patient with others as we hope that they would be patient with us.  For a (relatively) young person like myself, it was an honour to have a mentor like Richard.

I returned to the UK in 2011 so I had to leave both the Trinidad and Tobago Transparency Institute and the St Mary’s College Past Students Union but Richard and I still exchanged the occasional email and BBM message.   In a time where many find it easy to criticize, Richard was among the few who actually stood up and did what he could to make our world a better place.  He did not just talk the talk, Richard definitely walked the walk.  The eulogy written by his cousin Lennox Joseph and read by former President of the St Mary’s College Past Students’ Union Nestor Lambert, said it best –

“Whatever his professional duties and responsibilities may have been, he always felt called to do the right thing, and was never put off when political correctness, public opinion and political positioning suggested he do otherwise. He easily and admirably survived threats to his honor, authenticity and integrity, to which so many others around him seem to succumb.

He was also a present day model of community service and servant leadership. Socially conscious, morally motivated and an avid community volunteer, he was unswerving in his commitment to the Trinidad and Tobago Transparency Institute, his alma mater, St Mary’s College, the Cadet Corps, the Blue Range Association and numerous organizations for the underprivileged…It is a point to remember that in all the wisdom that Richard Andre so lovingly shared with us, the greatest was this: To promote authenticity, we must be authentic. To create transparency in political office and governmental life, we should ourselves be transparent. In our very selves, there should be no obscurity, no absence of integrity.”

As Trinidad and Tobago celebrates 50 years of independence this year, another St Mary’s College alumnus, Nasser Khan, on June 27th of this year, launched a book called “Profiles. Heroes, Role Models and Pioneers of Trinidad and Tobago, Celebrating our 50th Anniversary of Independence 1962-2012”.  As the title suggests, it seeks to document and present to readers our country’s past heroes and pioneers in all fields, from agriculture, business, community and social work, culture and the arts, economics, education, the environment, fashion, law, medicine, oil, politics, public service, media, religion, science, engineering, technology, sports, and trade unionism.  Kudos to Nasser Khan for his hard work.  It is important to acknowledge others who, like Richard Joseph, were committed to making Trinidad and Tobago a better place.  To me, Richard Andre Joseph was a hero and I was privileged to have known him and to have worked under him if only for a short time.  We need more Richards.  There are tributes on and in the Facebook group – St Mary’s College Past Students’ Union.
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My name is Derren Joseph and I love my country.  Despite its challenges, I continue to have the audacity of hope that we will enjoy a brighter tomorrow. 

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