THE sudden death yesterday of historian and Trinidad Express journalist Louis B Homer was being mourned by a cross-section of society who recognised his contributions and celebrated his life and work.
Homer died at the San Fernando General Hospital shortly before daybreak yesterday, one day after being admitted.
He was the author of the Trinidad Express’ long-running Monday series “Remembering Our Past”, and was involved in multiple projects up to the time of his death.
Homer, who converted his San Fernando home into a library of historical books and artefacts that spanned hundreds of years, recently began sharing his knowledge of local history as an adviser with the Ministry of National Diversity and Social Integration.
He leaves to mourn his wife, Evelyn; sons, Larrie and Michael; daughter, Nellein; grandchildren, Ansonia Torres and Armond Homer; and great-granddaughter, Adonaia Torres-Guevera.
Express editor-in-chief Omatie Lyder said yesterday: “Louis was passionate about the history and cultural ties of his country and each week would share his knowledge to educate us all through his weekly Express column, ‘Remembering Our Past’. He will be missed. The Express extends condolences to his family on the loss of their precious loved one.”
Express multimedia editor Richard Charan said of Homer: “He was truly an extraordinary person, and it was an honour for us to have known and worked with him. He was compassionate to everyone who came to him to seek advice, counsel and research assistance. His life’s work will be there for posterity.”
Hazel Manning, wife of former prime minister Patrick Manning, said Homer “was an icon, especially where history was concerned, and we very much regret his passing. We send our condolences to the newspaper and his colleagues, and to his family and friends”.
Minister of National Diversity and Social Integration Clifton De Coteau said: “It is truly a shock; I am really devastated because we worked very closely. He was an amazing historian and journalist. There is nothing that you would ask him to do that he would not do. For instance, I heard there was a site that we could investigate in Cedros; he said, ‘Don’t worry, boss.’ The next day, we did a report on it. He had this tremendous enthusiasm.
“The last time we spoke at length was on Tuesday. I send condolences to his family. To the Ministry of National Diversity, Louis was what I would call the saltfish. He was there with everyone, smiling, laughing; the man was just a bundle of joy.”
Member of Parliament for Couva South Rudranath Indarsingh said yesterday: “I express my sincerest condolences to the family, friends and the media fraternity of Trinidad and Tobago on the passing of Louis B Homer. We have lost a walking encyclopaedia, historical icon and journalist of great repute. He conducted many interviews with myself over the years, during my tenure at the All Trinidad Sugar and General Workers Trade Union and, more recently, as MP of Couva South.
Energy Minister Kevin Ramnarine also offered his condolences.
He said: “Louis B Homer was my friend. He was very knowledgeable about the history of the oil industry. I remem-ber well his account of the Manjack mine explosion in Vistabella in 1904.”
Ramnarine said: “In 2007, I met him at a function and mentioned to him that we would soon be marking 100 years as an oil-producing nation. Louis raised the matter with the then prime minister, Patrick Manning. After that, the government warmed to the idea of commemorating the 100th anniversary of commercial oil production. Louis maintained a massive collection of artefacts and papers. I will have a discussion with my colleague Clifton DeCoteau as to how this could be preserved. As a country, we need to cherish our historians, our literature, our festivals, our storytellers and our culture. Louis stood for all this.”
San Fernando Mayor Dr Navi Muradali said: “Mr Homer was busy working on the San Fernando Museum project, together with Mr Junior “Mokojumbie Man” Bisnath.
“Louis, for years, has advocated for a historical museum in the city, and we were working on the project which should have been launched in July. But owing to his busy schedule, we pushed the date to early September. It saddens all of us that we have lost a true gem of the South and a historian extraordinaire. Louis B Homer will have a special place in southern history.”
Homer was prese nted with the city’s “50th Anniversary of Indepen-
dence Award” in 2012 for his outstanding contribution in the field of arts and history of the southern city.
Muradali has indicated a special committee will be set up to ensure the work of Homer will find a special place in the planned San Fernando Museum.
Homer was 81 years old.
Funeral arrangements have not yet been made.