Even in death, Angelo Bissessarsingh made history. He was the longest surviving pancreatic cancer patient.
At his funeral yesterday, his aunt Prof Dr Ann Marie Bissessar appealing to the authorities to do more to help cancer patients.
Angelo, 34, died at his Siparia home on Thursday morning after a two year battle with pancreatic cancer. He was diagnosed in 2015 with stage four terminal pancreatic cancer but continued his work as a historian despite his illness.
Bissessar, dean of the Faculty of Social Sciences at the University of the West Indies (UWI), said on many occasions Angelo was turned away from the oncology centre at St James because there was no medication available.
"Angelo was an amazing person. He stood not only for history but he was also an advocate for cancer patients," she said. "For the last two years, when we found out Angelo had cancer, we used to go every Monday to the cancer centre and he had transformed that cancer centre, he would go in, people would come with books and Angelo was like this consummate person, signing books for people.
"Unfortunately, I think the medical services failed Angelo and failed him dreadfully. Many times when we went there it was to be turned back because there was no medicine, the chemo did not come. There were times the chemo did not come for months and we therefore we had to source it independently and financially. A lot of people that he knew as friends died because of that."
Bissessar said t120 new cases registered every Monday at the centre.
"I hope for two things, that his books get into the schools and secondly that the cancer centre gets upgraded. The resources in term of human resources are fantastic, the problem is it needs assistance in terms of money.
Angelo's father, Rudolph Bissessarsingh, called for a preservation fund for history to be started in his son's name.
"In his death, there must be political action, not political will, to dedicate a fund in Angelo's name for the preservation of our heritage," he said.
"Angelo possessed a gift whereby he told the story of our nation, a story of diverse people and culture brought together by accident, brought by the sugar cane. He taught us to love ourselves and protect each other and if we want to preserve his legacy we must put in place funds to preserve our heritage," he said
Among those paying tribute to the late historian was Local Government Minister Kazim Hosein who said if it was up to him, there would be a museum named after Angelo in San Fernando.
"I am no longer the Mayor of San Fernando but if it were up to me I would take that library we have standing empty and turn it into a museum named after Angelo," Hosein said.
He went told Angelo's family that Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley had promised to ensure that the historian's legacy lives on.
President Anthony Carmona added his voice the call for Angelo's books to be included in the school's syllabus.
"I have been quietly purchasing scores of his books and handing them out to school children and dignitaries," he said.
Recalling Angelo's ability to bring joy to others, Carmona said: "With that cherubic smile that could light up any room, we will never forget the power of one to change the perspective of a nation."
In addition to being awarded the Hummingbird Gold Medal last year, Angelo was also presented with the keys to the city of San Fernando by then Mayor Kazim Hosein.
His books, Walking with the Ancestors–The Historic Cemeteries of Trinidad, published in 2013; Snapshots of the History of Trinidad and Tobago, Virtual Glimpses into the Past; and Pancho's Dilemma, all published in 2016, have earned him many accolades.
His latest book, Woodland Shadows, is expected to be published in the coming months.