Scores of loved ones and outstanding citizens gathered to pay tribute to the memory of Isaac Thrulif McLeod, better known as IT McLeod at a memorial service held at Queen’s Hall, St Ann’s, yesterday. His funeral however, takes place today in Santa Cruz.
McLeod who died after a long period of illness on December 26 was born in humble circumstances at Delaford, Tobago. He became a renowned businessman and quantity surveyor and those present paid tribute to the many facets of his life. Some of these were shown with a montage of photographs from his life and career.
He was remembered to as deeply spiritual man, who was a member of a masonic lodge as well as an Orisha devotee.
Among the many celebrants were his wife Patricia, relative Dale McLeod, political leader of the Movement for Social Justice (MSJ), David Abdulah, Trinbago Unified Calypsonians Organisation (TUCO) president Lutalo Masimba, storyteller Paul Keens-Douglas and musician Clive Zanda .
McLeod was eulogised by his schoolteacher daughter Sharon Giselle McLeod as “the best quantity surveyor in T&T”. She also shared stories about his compassion for people which led him to feed people in the rural communities.
He could not stand by and do nothing when newspaper statistics showed about “10 per cent of Trinidad is hungry”.
“I never looked at stats in the same way,” she said. Meanwhile, she learned a lifelong lesson about respect and dignity during her temporary sojourn into the countryside.
“A gentleman offered me some limes. I was reluctant to take it. My father whispered in my ear “Give the man his dignity.” I took it. It is a lesson that has stayed with me up till today,” said McLeod.
McLeod was moved to give scholarships to students in fields like surveying and piloting. Mc Leod’s generosity extended to Caricom countries including St Vincent. So it was not surprising Dr Ralph Gonsalves, Prime Minister of St Vincent and the Grenadines, extended condolences to the McLeod clan. Beyond the Caribbean, McLeod’s philanthropy embraced the poverty-stricken communities of Welcome and Alexandria, in South Africa. Far from the glare of media publicity, McLeod unleashed his brand of humanitarianism in a bid to improve people’s lives via education and the establishment of businesses.
On a more intimate level, family was very important to him. A line on the programme featured her father’s favourite quote: “Family is the greatest asset.”
McLeod gave a glimpse into a man who supported the West Indies cricket team as far as their exploits in South Africa. He enjoyed fine wines. He instilled an appreciation of history and a love for the arts, which he patronised relentlessly. “You are children of the diaspora,” he would tell them.
Eldest grandson Eje Celestin pledged to honour McLeod’s legacy by pursuing a career as a quantity surveyor.
He remembered a “grandfather who mastered the art of spoiling his grandchildren”.
Eldest granddaughter Folani Guerra said he encouraged her to strive to be a strong and independent woman.
Dr Ralph Henry spoke about his investments in agriculture which extended to Guyana and his skill at husking dry coconuts. Henry also spoke of the charitable work he had undertaken in South Africa where about “300,000 people were living in conditions worse than Sea Lots”.
Businessman Henry Sealy said McLeod was devoted to the work of the Rotarians and community service. As a formidable businessman, McLeod set about creating companies including IT McLeod Partnership, McLeod Hummingbird Helmet Crested Ltd, Management and Construction Company Ltd and Tobago Multi-Marketing Ltd.
He was also praised for inspiring the Tobago House of Assembly to create the heritage fund for the benefit of Tobagonians. As a mark of respect for his contribution THA’s Noel Jack, Secretary of Finance, lauded McLeod “as another one of the unique gifts from Tobago which was shared with Trinidad”.
Businessman Cecil Davis remembered his passion for punctuality, indefatigable work ethic which he copied from the late entrepreneur Ram Kirpalani. Mc Leod always advised businessmen “to always own a home so when things are not going so good, they would be sure to have somewhere to rest their head”.