Saturday, December 16, 2017

Gordon: He was an extraordinary family man

Integrity Commission chairman Ken Gordon yesterday spoke of former president Arthur NR Robinson as a man who loved his family and country dearly.

Gordon paid tribute to Robinson at the State Ecumenical Service in his honour at the National Academy for Performing Arts (NAPA) in Pot of Spain.

He reminded the congregation of Robinson’s famous words, “Attack with full force” during the 1990 attempted coup, adding that he could not think of any other world leader in contemporary times who would give such orders with thugs holding a phone and a gun to his head.

Gordon said Robinson was a “family man extraordinaire” who loved his wife Patricia and children deeply. He said Robinson insisted his wife accompany him to public events and she did so even when she was in a wheelchair.

Gordon related that the love between Robinson and his wife was profound, disclosing that during the 1990 attempted coup, Patricia sent a note to her husband who was held captive by the Muslimeen.

“She (Patricia) somehow had a note mysteriously delivered to him by one of his captors at the Red House while he was in captivity. The three-word note said, “I love you”, said Gordon.

He pointed out that the love between Robinson and his children also ran deep as his daughter Ann Margaret devoted five years of her life to looking after her father as his health deteriorated.

Gordon recalled when he met Robinson and how their lifelong friendship began.

He said Robinson was finance minister 48 years ago and had introduced the Finance Act of 1963 and the measures proposed to achieve growth led to a total explosion in the national community.

“In today’s world what would have been described as a small cabal in the Cabinet openly used expletives to disassociate themselves from the Finance Act,” said Gordon.

He said a ten-man business team, of which he was a part, met with Robinson to discuss the legislation and he (Robinson) handled the three-hour meeting which was filled with vitriol from the business community, with quiet confidence.

“He never once invoked the excuse of collective Cabinet responsibility,” said Gordon.

“He did not win  any friends that day but for the little it was worth he earned my respect,” said Gordon, adding that he wrote to Robinson restating his areas of disagreement but also commended him on his courage and conviction. 

Their friendship began there.

Gordon said Robinson’s strength of character and confidence coupled with his erudite political gifts led him to become the chairman of the Tobago House of Assembly, prime minister, president and co-founder of the International Criminal Court.

“It was his lifetime of principled conduct, his dignity and his courage that would remain the indelible stamp of an unparalleled life of achievement,” said Gordon.