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Tributes pour in for PNM stalwart John Donaldson (with CNC3 video)
He was a giant of a man, dedicated and loyal, selfless and resilient. This was how former People’s National Movement (PNM) vice-chairman John Donaldson Jr was described by colleagues after his death yesterday. Donaldson, who died at the age of 71 at the St Clair Medical Centre, had been ailing for some time. He served as Minister of National Security, Labour and Foreign Affairs under PNM administrations.
Opposition Leader Dr Keith Rowley described him as a dedicated and loyal party member who made a sterling contribution to the development of the PNM and the country. “Mr Donaldson will be remembered as an authoritative figure who served as vice chairman of the party for many years until 2010,” Rowley wrote in a news release yesterday.
Donaldson served as a senator from 1976-1982 and served as an MP for St Ann’s West from 1981-1986 and from 2002-2010 served as the inspector of missions. Rowley expressed his own grief and that of the party and said Donaldson would be remembered for his simple and unassuming lifestyle. He would also be remembered for his role in the country’s history and as an outstanding athlete, and for his incisive thought and dry wit, his love of family, country and love of the PNM, Rowley wrote.
“I extended my deepest sympathy to his wife, Marjorie, and his children John Jnr, Joy and Edmund. May his soul rest in peace,” he stated. Colm Imbert, MP for Diego Martin North/East, said Donaldson’s death was a great loss to the country. “I was aware he was ill because I passed through a private nursing home a few years ago and he was brought in. They (doctors) didn’t expect him to last very long but he stayed with us for two years. That was a resilient man,” Imbert said.
Imbert said Donaldson could have become leader of the PNM in 1986 but lost his seat by a little over 100 votes. “Whenever I wanted advice on party politics, the first person I would talk to would be Mr Donaldson. I could always get advice for him,” said Imbert. PNM MP Donna Cox said Donaldson would be greatly missed. “He was one of the most objective people I had ever met. He always listened to both sides of a story and was willing to give a chance to newcomers to the PNM,” Cox said.
She said when she joined the party he made her feel comfortable and was very welcoming. “Even when he was sick he would call me up when he heard about someone in my constituency who needed help. He always wanted to help people. He was a selfless individual who was dedicated to the PNM and to the country,” she added. In a release, Minister of National Security Jack Warner also extended condolences to Donaldson’s family and friends.
Warner stated: “Mr Donaldson had the distinction of being the longest-serving Minister of National Security, a total of nine years that spanned 1976 to 1985. “Having spent such a long time in national service, Mr Donaldson would surely have left his mark on the institutions that he was a part of and on the persons with whom he interacted. As such his contribution to national development cannot be quantified or expressed in simple terms.”
The John Donaldson Technical Institute of the University of T&T, on Wrightson Road, Port-of-Spain, was named after Donaldson’s father, also a PNM minister and co-founder of the party with Dr Eric Williams.
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