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Angela Cropper, beacon of selfless service despite personal trials
Angela Cropper’s life is an example of dignified and selfless service. These were the words of managing director of the Lloyd Best Institute of the West Indies, Sunity Maharaj as she shared thoughts via a memorial Web site set up in Cropper’s honour.
The Web site, angela.cropper.muchloved.com, has received the attention of dozens of people wishing to pay their respects to a woman who made her mark not only in T&T as an Independent Senator but throughout the world with her work with the United Nations.
Cropper served on the board of the Lloyd Best Institute for many years. She died on Monday at the age of 66 in London after being ill for some time. Details of a memorial service to commemorate Cropper’s life will be announced. “The Lloyd Best Institute of the West Indies mourns the loss of Angela even as it celebrates the wonder of her presence among us,” wrote Maharaj.
“Angela’s life is an example of dignified and selfless service. She was possessed with the idea of giving back and assumed personal responsibility for making the world a better place.” Maharaj described Cropper as a great believer in the capacity of young people to “rise to the challenge of making tomorrow better than today.”
She said Cropper invested in them through the Cropper Foundation’s Young Writers Retreats as well as its work on the environment. She was a patron of many youthful dreams. “Despite her deep personal tragedies, Angela never seemed to lose faith in the essential goodness of people and in the possibilities of the future.”
Cropper was a social activist and a former Deputy Executive Director of the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP). She also served UNEP as a Special Adviser. In 2001 she lost her husband, mother and sister when they were murdered in her mother’s Cascade home.
This was preceded by the death of her son three years earlier. Despite the crime against her family, Cropper maintained her stance against the death penalty, a stance for which she was greatly respected. Her son’s death was the catalyst behind the launch of The Cropper Foundation, a foundation aimed at continuing work in sustainable development, equity, and better environmental and resource management.
• Lennox Grant pays tribute
Veteran journalist Lennox Grant said yesterday Cropper would have made an exemplary President. “I had long been privately rooting for Angela Cropper as President of the Republic of T&T. It had seemed to me that this is where her endeavors appropriately led,” said Grant. He said her involvements, over the 42 years he knew her, always pointed to a larger mission than the immediate, and she appeared to have equipped herself accordingly.
“Academically, she was a shining star of the UWI St Augustine class of 1973. She plunged into political activism with the Tapia House Group, and was quickly recognised as the leading woman, a gender role model, at a time when politics were by definition a dominant male calling,” Grant said.
He said Angela survived what could have been crushing personal losses marked by the destruction of her closest family relations, to work as a supranational public servant, joining public affairs in T&T with social activism while remaining highly in demand by the international organisations to which she gave her last years.
• Ira Mathur speaks
In an online post, journalist Ira Mathur described Cropper as a woman who stood for everything bright, good, clear and honest. “Every time I spoke to her she wanted to know what she could do to give back to the world,” Mathur wrote. “I can’t describe her bright fearless spirit that was so free of personal ambition and so full of altruism that it gave her more power than a high position or a gun could give her.”
Mathur prayed Cropper found the peace she never had in her lifetime, in death. “She went during Divali. I can only say she’s merged with the light.”