Sobion was admitted to the University Hospital Jamaica last week when he fell seriously ill following a dental procedure his son Darian told the Jamaica Gleaner.
However, his condition deteriorated yesterday and Sobion passed away at the hospital at about 10 am. He was 56.
His wife Judith was with him in Jamaica. He had three children. One of his sons, attorney and rising local artist Justin, who was in Trinidad is reported to have flown to Jamaica yesterday.
Sobion’s former Cabinet, legal and academic colleagues yesterday expressed shock at his passing and hailed him as a brilliant lawyer, a gifted teacher and a man devoted to family.
Trade and Industry Minister Dr Keith Rowley could barely find the words to describe his rich friendship with Sobion.
“I am in shock. Just in absolute shock and for all the reports I was getting that he was on the mend,” he said, pausing before he continued.
“This is terrible, terrible news. He was always a good person. Sensible, bright, willing, fun to be with, fun-loving and yet serious,” Rowley said.
Sobion, who was the principal of the Norman Manley Law School in Jamaica at the time of his death, also received praise from Caricom Secretary General Dr Edwin Carrington
Carrington said Sobion made Trinidad and Tobago and the Caricom region richer for his stellar contributions in the legal field, and singled out his work on the formation of the Caribbean Court of Justice (CCJ).
The Jamaican legal fraternity also commended the work Sobion had done in the region.
The Jamaica Gleaner reported that president of the Jamaica Bar Association John Leiba spoke highly of him.
“His experience in terms of procedure, especially on matters of government was invaluable. It is a great loss,” Leiba told the newspaper.
Former attorney general under the NAR administration Anthony Smart, who Sobion succeeded in 1991, when the PNM returned to power, yesterday recalled their days as classmates at the Hugh Wooding Law School.
“He topped his graduating class in 1975. We knew each other and now his children know my brother’s children and mine, so there is continuity of the friendship through the next generation,” Smart said.
Another change in governments, this time in 1995, saw Sobion passing the AG’s baton to Kamla Persad-Bissessar, the first woman to hold this post when the UNC rose to power. Sobion personally escorted Persad-Bissessar to her office then, a moment which local media captured. She had been his student at law school.
“I’m deeply saddened to learn of the death of Mr Sobion. I knew him as a tutor at law school. He was very kind and very helpful to us coming into the profession. I commend him for his service to the country which he served as attorney general,” Persad-Bissessar said yesterday.
Sobion became principal of the Norman Manley Law School in 1996, nearly a year after the PNM lost the 1995 general election. He served as the PNM Ortoire/Mayaro MP between 1991 and 1995, before losing his seat to the UNC’s Razack Ali.
Government yesterday said the country’s High Commissioner to Jamaica Yvonne Gittens-Joseph, visited Sobion on Wednesday.
“Even from his hospital bed he spoke of his professional commitments and future projects,” Foreign Affairs Minister Paula Gopee-Scoon said in a statement yesterday.
She described Sobion as an avowed patriot who distinguished himself academically and “brought intellectual rigour” to the performance of his job as AG.