The State is expected provide funding for the funeral service for Patricia Robinson, wife of former president Arthur NR Robinson, who died in her sleep yesterday morning at her family's Ellerslie Park home.
No date has as yet been announced for the funeral. She was 79 and had been ailing for several years with Alzheimer's disease and diabetes. She had not been seen in public for several years. Shortly after 6 o'clock yesterday morning, Mrs Robinson's daughter Ann Margaret and her granddaughter were at her bedside when she was pronounced dead by the family doctor. Born in March 1930 at the corner of Oxford and Observatory Streets, in east Port-of-Spain, Mrs Robinson told the Guardian in an interview published on June 24, 1990: "I was born behind the bridge, so nobody from that area has anything on me."
She attended the Tranquility Government Primary School from where she won an exhibition to St Joseph's Convent. Following a short stint in the public service, she attended Columbia University in New York where she studied economics, going as far as completing the course work for a PhD at the Ivy League college. She joined the public service in 1958 and served the country until March 1990, when she retired. She was seconded from the public service to the Central Bank where she served as Director of Research between 1968 and 1973. Yesterday, Central Bank Governor Ewart Williams, who spent a year in the Central Bank's research department in the late sixties, said that he was one of many economists who got their start under the leadership of Mrs Robinson. "She was a teacher, a pretty tough teacher but she made sure that her staff straight out of University, understood the importance of learning fundamentals and applying them to real world problems. "She was a stickler for interpreting statistics properly and for clear, concise report writing, always reminding you that you could only write it clearly if you understood the reasoning well."
In the June 1990 interview she disclosed that she was offered the job as Director of Research at the Central Bank in 1973 on a permanent basis but that "the government refused to release me." She said she was placed in an office in St Ann's and was given nothing to do. "I was allegedly on special assignment having to do with the Caribbean Investment Company or something like that. In fact, it was a nothing job and I spent from '73 to '80 there on a seven-year sabbatical." It is believed that she was placed into "cold storage" during that period because her husband had fallen out with the ruling party, having resigned as a minister in April, 1970.
She joined NIHERST in 1980 where she served as Director of Financial Institutions. Prime Minister Patrick Manning visited the Robinsons after yesterday's Cabinet meeting and extended his condolences to the family. Foreign Affairs Minister Paula Gopee-Scoon is responsible for co-ordinating the State's assistance for the funeral. She called the Robinsons yesterday to extend her condolences and is expected to visit the family this morning.
Gopee-Scoon said yesterday that she "wanted to give President Robinson some time with his family before meeting with him to discuss what is required." She confirmed that the meeting will take place early this morning. President George Maxwell Richards also extended his condolences to the Robinson family on hearing of the former First Lady's death.
Sources close to the Robinsons said yesterday, the former president was "deeply saddened" by his wife's death. The source said Robinson always said "She is still here with us" when anyone enquired about his wife, Patricia. She was the mother of two, David, an aeronautical engineer and Ann Margaret. Former National Alliance for Reconstruction government minister Jennifer Johnson said Mrs Robinson will be remembered for her "intellectual brilliance and her passion for art." Mrs Robinson celebrated her 79th birthday on March 31 with a tea party.
Mrs Robinson received her MA in Economics at Columbia University in 1957. She was an economist with the PNM Government under Prime Minister Dr Eric Williams. From 1965 to 1967 she served as Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of External Affairs. She was:
�2 Member of the International Leaders for Mental Health
�2 Chairperson of the Women's World Banking Ltd
�2 Co-sponsor of International Year of Volunteers in 2001.
What President Richards said:
My wife and I were saddened to learn of the death, this morning, of Mrs. Patricia Robinson, wife of former President, The Honourable Arthur N R Robinson TC, OCC, SC. An outstanding daughter of the soil, Patricia Robinson was a brilliant economist who, as a senior public servant, faithfully served this nation, making an indelible contribution to the development of the banking and financial sectors, inter alia, in Trinidad and Tobago, before assuming her role as First Lady from 1997 to 2003. Her influence, as an economist, in areas such as double taxation, was felt throughout the region. The nation owes her a debt of gratitude. To her family, she was a supportive and loving wife, mother and grandmother. Our hearts and prayers go out to them today–to her husband, The Honourable Arthur N.R. Robinson, her children, David and Ann Margaret, her grand daughter, Anushka, as well as to her extended family.