Hall of Fame 2011

 

Mr. Desmond Allum S.C.

Lieutenant Colonel Kenneth (Ken) Gittens, H.B.M.

Mr. Kenneth (Ken) Gordon, C.M.

Mr. Leon "Taffy" Phillips

Professor Emeritus, Arnold Rampersad

The St. Mary's College Unit of the Trinidad and Tobago Cadet Force

Commander Jack Williams, M.O.M.


Mr. Desmond Allum S.C.

 

 

In his over 40 years of endeavor as a practicing barrister, the late Desmond Allum built a reputation as a peerless champion of the legal profession in Trinidad and Tobago. Upon his death on June 17th, 2010, numerous tributes were paid to him, not only by his colleagues but by many others throughout the nation. Among the words used to describe him were:

 

“He was a venerable attorney who left an impressive footprint on the profession of law.”

“He will be remembered for instilling passion and insisting upon principle among young attorneys who came under his watch, urging them to the highest ethical and professional standards.”

“He was a stout defender and staunch advocate of justice.”]

 

Mr. Allum received his primary school education at Fyzabad Intermediate School, from which he won a Government exhibition to attend St. Mary’s College. After graduating from St. Mary’s he worked in the oil industry for a few years before departing to England to pursue a degree in law. One of the highlights of his stay in England was the successful defense of himself and his good friend George Hislop in a case of unlawful arrest by a racist policeman. They were each awarded the then significant sum of £4,000.]

He returned to Trinidad in the early 1960s to practice law but also quietly became involved in politics through the New World Group with his childhood friend, James Millette. Later, he shot into the forefront with his work on the Scott Drug Report and his successful plea of mitigation for two of the leaders of the 1970 insurrection (which went all the way through to the Appeal Court and the Privy Council). This decision resulted in the freeing of all the soldiers who were charged.

In practicing law, his focus was always on the side of the people, as he unswervingly concerned himself with the legal entitlements of the poor and dispossessed. Mr. Allum was devoted to protecting and fighting for the weak and defenseless whose rights were overlooked or even subverted by those who were expected to defend them. This approach of his was no surprise, considering that he came from a strong Catholic background and remained an avowed Catholic up to the time of his death.

In due course, he became a Senior Counsel. He was one of the founding members and first Head of Chambers of Trinity Chambers which is now the largest Chambers in Trinidad and Tobago with thirty-one members. Later, he became President of the Criminal Bar Association. Mr. Allum served with distinction as a Member of Parliament before devoting time to social and community causes, the most notable of which was the Cotton Tree Foundation.
 

Lieutenant Colonel Kenneth (Ken) Gittens, H.B.M.

 


Possessed of a disciplined and methodical approach to all his endeavors, along with a strong adherence to Christian principles, it was no surprise that Lt. Colonel Gittens achieved success in many of the initiatives that he undertook. But it was mainly in the area of community service and youth development that his devotion arid commitment stood out like a beacon.

While he was a student at Sr. Mary’s College, Lt. Col. Gittens served as a member of the Cadet Force for five years, rising to the rank of Company Sergeant Major. On graduation from CIC, he served in the Second Battalion of the Trinidad Volunteers, where he also attained the rank of Company Sergeant Major. He returned to the Cadet Force in 1944 as a commissioned officer holding the rank of 2nd Lieutenant. After just three months, the young man was promoted to the rank of Lieutenant and was also appointed Adjutant. In 1945 he was promoted to the rank of Captain and was appointed as the Second in Command of the Force. Come 1953, he was promoted to the rank of Major and appointed Commanding Officer, a post he held until 1967 when he retired at the rank of Lt. Colonel. In all, he gave a total of 30 years of distinguished service to the youth of this country through the Cadet Force.

After his retirement from active service in the Cadet Force, Lt. Col. Gittens served on the reserve list of officers but immediately became involved in the President’s Award of Trinidad and Tobago (formerly the Duke of Edinburgh Award Scheme) which serves an even wider circle of youth than the Cadets. He was later appointed chairman of this committee. He was decorated with the Efficiency Medal in 1945, the Queen’s Coronation Medal in 1953, the Cadet Force Medal in 1963 and the Humming Bird Medal (Gold) in 1978.

These were accomplished while he maintained a successful career spanning 33 years at Neal and Massy Holdings Ltd., where he served as Company Secretary and Executive Director for 25 years. He also served as a director of the Trinidad Co-operative Bank, where he was a vice-president. Lt. Col. Gittens was also a founder/ director of that bank’s Trust company and director of many other organizations, including the Development Finance Company (DFL) Ltd. and the Trinidad and Tobago Chamber of Industry and Commerce. He was the Country Representative for Trinidad and Tobago in the International Executive Service Corps.

The Lt. Col. was Treasurer of the Lawn Tennis Association at the local and Commonwealth Caribbean levels and represented the nation at rifle-shooting, winning several medals at the regional level. Lt. Colonel Gittens was always supportive of his alma mater and served as President of the St. Mary’s College Past Students’ Union from 1971 to 1974.

 

Mr. Kenneth (Ken) Gordon, C.M.


 

It would be well-nigh impossible for anyone to honestly challenge the following statement, “there is no one more deserving of credit for the development of Caribbean media in the last 60 years than Ken Gordon”. It is a well-accepted fact that no one has given more assistance, emotional support and tangible technical help to the print and electronic media in the region, from Jamaica to Guyana.

During his wars at CIC he was a sergeant of the Cadet Force, table-tennis champion and the “intercol” goalkeeper in one of the seven consecutive wars that the College won the Alexander Clark Cup, then the symbol of football supremacy between CIC and traditional rivals, QRC. Upon graduating from St. Mary’s in 1948 he took up an assignment at Trinidad and Tobago’s sole radio station as a broadcast journalist, proving to be one of the best ever. He was the first local to be promoted to the position of Program Director. He later moved to the Trinidad Chamber of Commerce In the position of General Manager and after seven years he again moved, this time to the position of Managing Director of the Trinidad Express newspaper.

Under his Leadership, the Express was transformed into a multimedia giant known as the Caribbean Communications Network (CCN), the largest media house in the region. As Chairman/Chief Executive Officer of CCN, Mr. Gordon played a key role in establishing an indigenous privately-owned media in the region. Having turned around the Express in Trinidad, he co-founded the Nation newspaper in Barbados, The Starbrock News in Guyana, the Observer in Jamaica and the Tobago News. He was also responsible for strengthening fragile media houses in Grenada, St. Lucia and Dominica. His vision was not only for ownership of Caribbean media by Caribbean people, but also keeping the press free and Independent from the control of politicians. In fulfilling this vision, he fearlessly took on several Caribbean leaders, such as Burnham, Gairy Bishop and even Manley and Williams. Mr. Gordon was also the founding chairman of the Caribbean News Agency (CANA) and was for many years the president of the Caribbean Publisher and Broadcasters’ Association.

He has received numerous accolades, a few of which are listed here the Inter-American Press Association Award in 1993, the Maria Moors Cabot Gold Medal from Columbia University in 1984, the Commonwealth Press Union Lord Astor Award in 1985 and the Media Association of Trinidad and Tobago Award in 1997. He was inducted into the Hall of Fame of the Caribbean Broadcasting Union in 1999 and the Trinidad and Tobago Industry and Commerce Business Hall of Fame in 2009. He received the UWI Legacy Award and the Icon Award for Distinguished Service to Trinidad and Tobago, both in 2002.

Mr. Gordon has been honored with a doctorate in Business and Entrepreneurship by the University of Trinidad and Tobago (UTT) and awarded the country’s second highest national award, the Chaconia Medal (Gold).

But Ken Gordon’s service has not been restricted to the sphere of media. He co-founded the highly successful Mayaro Initiative for Private Enterprise Development (MIPED), a micro financing project in which BP invested $7 million which has grown to more than $33 million in seven years. He has served as President of the West Indies Cricket Board, President of the I.C.C. Cricket World Cup in 2007 and the Chairman of Neal and Massy Holdings Ltd., B.W.I.A. and First Citizens Bank. He founded the Great Race from Trinidad to Tobago, brought Direct TV to Trinidad in 1969 and has served as a Minister in the Government of Trinidad and Tobago.

Mr. Gordon is a loyal alumnus of CIC and does not hesitate to assist the Past Students’ Union and the present student body.

 

Mr. Leon "Taffy" Phillips

 

 

Leon “Taffy” Phillips was quietly altruistic, missing no opportunity to help the poor, the downtrodden and the homeless, in whatever way possible. He carried out his good deeds in a most unobtrusive manner, away from the bright lights of the media or any form of publicity. Evidence of the foregoing is the fact that for years, every Saturday for five hours, he taught physics and chemistry to a number of secondary school students, free-of-charge. Quietly, he provided financial assistance to the brighter ones to attend university to pursue their bachelors’ and masters’ degrees and in one instance, a Ph.D.

His primary school education was obtained at Nelson Street Boys’ R.C. School, after which he attended St. Mary’s College. At St. Mary’s, he participated fully in extra-curricular activities while consistently doing extremely well at his studies. He represented CIC at football in the days when the then colleges competed in the Port of Spain Football League (POSFL) against senior teams, including the dominant teams of those times such as Maple, Malvern, Shamrock and Colts. He was a member of the CIC First Eleven for three years and captained the team in his last year at school.

After St. Mary’s, Mr. Phillips studied at the University of British Columbia where he obtained a B.Sc. in bio-chemistry. Returning to Trinidad, he had a successful career in sales at one of the leading multi-national manufacturing companies in this country. After a number of years, he left his job and decided to take over the management of his family’s bakery when the business was not going well. He performed a resurrection, transforming it from a dying business to a very successful one. Mr. Phillips’ success is a story of black entrepreneurship as he grew the business from one outlet to a financially strong operation with a number of branches.
Indeed, he was one of the greatest contributors to the baking industry in this country. Apart from being President of the Trinidad and Tobago Bakers Association, for a number of ears he was the test baker at National Flour Mills and at Unilever for their flour and baking products. He encouraged and supported under-capitalized bakery proprietors by giving baking products and even second -hand equipment to them when possible.
After his passing, the Trinidad and Tobago Chamber of Industry and Commerce described Mr. Phillips as a pioneering down-town Port of Spain businessman who showed consistent concern for the community and his country and who always spoke and acted in a manner intended to make Trinidad and Tobago a better place for all.

Professor Emeritus, Arnold Rampersad


 

Professor Rampersad is considered one of the world’s most respected biographers and has received many honors for his literary work.

He wrote his Ph.D. in English at Harvard University and thereafter, he has taught at Harvard, the University of Virginia, Rutgers, Columbia, Princeton and Stanford. From 2003 to 2006 he served as the Associate Dean overseeing the humanities departments at Stanford. He is much sought after as a lecturer and dozens of American universities have benefited from his addresses.

Professor Rampersad is the author or editor of more than a dozen books, including the two-volume, definitive Life of Langston Hughes; Days of Grace: A Memoir (co-authored with Arthur Ashe) and the masterful Ralph Ellison: A Biography, which was a finalist for the coverted National Book Award and the Pulitzer Prize in Biography. He also served for two wars on the Pulitzer panel of judges. Deeply moved by W.E.B. Du Bois’ landmark study, The Souls of Black Folk, he decided to write his doctoral dissertation on Du Bois. This manuscript evolved into his second book, The Art and Imaginations of W.E.B. Du Bois, an inspired intellectual biography that led to a new understanding by scholars and students of black America’s leading intellectual. In 1993, at the request Jackie Robinson’s widow, he wrote the first full-length biography of the man who in 1947 helped pave the way for the modern civil rights movement by integrating Major League Baseball. Jackie Robinson: A Biography was the end product. He co-edited Slavery and the Literary Imagination, a notable collection of essays on the impact of slavery on creative writing, as well as the influential multi-volume Race And American Culture book series published by Oxford University.
Among the awards he has received are fellowships from the MacArthur Foundation, the J.S. Guggenheim Foundation, the National Endowment for the Humanities, the Rockefeller Foundation and the American Council of Learned Societies.

In 2009, the University of the West Indies, Trinidad, awarded Professor Rampersad an honorary doctorate and earlier this year he received from USA President Obama, the National Humanities Medal, one of the highest awards in the humanities in the USA.

 

 The St. Mary's College Unit of the Trinidad and Tobago Cadet Force

 


 

Thus far, only individuals have been inducted into the St. Mary’s College Hall of Fame. It is most fitting that the first organisation on which this honour is being bestowed is the St. Mary’s College Unit of the Trinidad and Tobago Cadet Force, 101 years old this year.]

With respect to its establishment, we quote in part from the Royal Gazette of just over a century ago, 5th May 1910 to be precise:

 

“His Excellency the Governor and Commander-in-Chief is pleased to authorise the formation of a Cadet Corps as from 1st May 1910. It will be designated ‘ The Trinidad Cadet Corps’ and attached to the Trinidad Light Infantry Volunteers and will be composed of Companies from Queen’s Royal and St. Mary’s Colleges.”

 

The first units in Trinidad and Tobago were patterned on the United Kingdom Cadet Corps (as it was then known) that had been established 50 years earlier in 1860. Thus, the aim of the Trinidad Cadet organisation was the same as that of its United Kingdom counterpart and read as follows:

 

“ To provide a disciplined organisation in a school, so that pupils may develop powers of leadership by means of training, to promote the qualities of responsibility, self-reliance, resourcefulness, endurance and perseverance.”

 

When one considers the calibre and achievements of the several hundred students of St. Mary’s College who benefited from membership in the College’s Cadet unit, it is clear that to a very large extent, the stated aim has been achieved. From the early days, the Cadets participated in the annual training camp held at venues such as the St. James Barracks, Nelson Island and (from 1937) in Tobago. At these camps, it was made clear to the Cadets that apart from learning to become proficient in areas such as drill, weaponry, marksmanship and map-reading, the intention was to make each cadet think and act independently when the occasion arose.

In both World Wars, ex-cadets of St. Mary’s were among those from this country who responded to the call of duty. Some enlisted in England while others served with the British West Indies Regiment in the East. A number of them fell in battle, but a high number performed heroically and survived.

Ex-cadets of CIC have performed with distinction in many fields, including medicine, engineering, law and business. Quite naturally, they have also excelled in the military, starting with the formation of the Trinidad and Tobago Defence Force, where a number of CIC alumni served as commissioned officers. In fact, three of the Chiefs of Defence Staff in Trinidad and Tobago were CIC cadets. We refer here to Messrs. Joe Theodore, Ralph Brown and Anthony Franklin. Another, Louis Jim Rodriguez, rose to the rank of Commissioner of Police. Former CIC cadet, Lt. Colonel Ken Gittens, served as Commanding Officer of the Cadets from 1953 to 1968, whilst another former CIC cadet, the present Commanding Officer, Colonel Patrick Taylor, was appointed in 2010.

Although the Unit has been challenged by falling membership in recent times, efforts are being made to restore it to its former days of high membership so that present-day CIC students can emulate the vision, commitment and loyalty of the cadets that went before them.

 

Commander Jack Williams, M.O.M.

 


After graduating from St. Mary’s College in 1950, Commander Williams was involved in many social, sporting and youth activities.

He served as an umpire in the Northern Cricket League, Secretary of the Northern Cricket Council and Assistant Secretary of the Trinidad and Tobago Cricket Council for some 12 years. He was also a First Division referee in the Port of Spain Football League. He was a founding member and subsequently a life member of the Notre Dame Sports Club, one of the clubs that catered initially for CIC alumni. Commander Williams was also leader of the Mavericks Carnival band.

In December 1963 he joined the Trinidad and Tobago Coast Guard as a Lieutenant and was later promoted to the rank of Lt. Commander. In 1981 he was elevated to the rank of Commander when he was appointed Commanding Officer of the Coast Guard, a position he held until his retirement in 1987.

During his service in the Coast Guard he was a tower of strength to all, particularly during the 1970 Black Power Revolution and the insurrection in the Defence Force. In 2007 he was posthumously awarded the Coast Guard Veteran Medal for his outstanding service in those tumultuous times.

Ever committed to the development of youth, soon after joining the Coast Guard, he became involved in the Duke of Edinburgh Award Scheme and served as a committee member for 12 years. When this country became a Republic in 1976, the scheme was renamed the “President’s Award of Trinidad and Tobago” and he became its first chairman. Commander Williams vigorously encouraged young people in schools and youth organisations to participate in the programme as a character-building exercise while qualifying for bronze, silver and gold awards. In 1995, after 19 years of dedicated service, he gave up his position as Chairman but remained the Chief Assessor and Vice-President until his death. He was Chairman of the Caribbean Awards Scheme Council from 1987 to 1995 and was one of three representatives from the Americas region on the International Council of the Duke of Edinburgh Award. It is to be noted that he wrote the constitution of the Caribbean Award Scheme Council.

Commander Williams also served as the president of the St. Mary’s College Past Students’ Union, the Port of Spain Central Lions Club, the Trinidad and Tobago Game Fishing Association, TSPCA and the Trinidad and Tobago National Emblems Committee. He was a devout Catholic and was a lay minister in his parish. He received many military awards and a National Award – The Medal of Merit – for distinguished service in the Defence Force and in the community.

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