Sir Ellis passed away peacefully last night at 7.15 at his home at 6 Pine Grove, Fairways, Maraval. He never recovered from the massive stroke which he suffered last month.
On November 24, Sir Ellis was rushed to Westshore Medical Centre in Cocorite for medical treatment for the ailment.
In a statement from the residence last evening, the family said it wished to thank all those who offered prayers and best wishes during his brief illness.
Sir Ellis’ son Peter read the statement to the Newsday team waiting outside the former President’s residence. After the brief statement, Peter returned inside to join the rest of the family.
“I want to thank you for respecting our wishes, I know that you have to do your job. I am going inside with my family,” Peter said as he requested respect for the family’s privacy in their time of grief.
When Newsday arrived, the team noted activity in one of the upstairs rooms. It seemed like persons were preparing Sir Ellis’ body to be taken away. There was a white van parked outside with its rear door open.
At about 9.34 pm, two undertakers came out with the body, wrapped in maroon material.
Sir Ellis, who was one of the main architects of this country’s 1962 Independence Constitution, served as President from 1976 to 1987.
An attorney, he was a sought-after authority on constitutional matters, dispute resolution and diplomatic conflicts and was currently at the forefront of the country’s efforts at constitutional reform.
Sir Ellis, a Roman Catholic, also attended Mass regularly as well as meetings of various committees of which he was a member.
His contemporary, Sir Ulric Cross said he visited him on Wednesday at about 10 am.
“He was not alert. His eyes were closed and he was lying on his left side,” Sir Ulric said. “It was very sad to see him like that since we have known each other since the age of 11.”
Sir Ulric said only Sir Ellis’ son-in-law was present when he visited.
In a previous interview, Sir Ulric regarded his former classmate at St Mary’s College as brilliant. Both also distinguished themselves in the legal profession.
“I used to say 1917 was a vintage year for Trinidad and Tobago,” he said then.
Yesterday, Sir Ulric said he learnt from a nurse that there was not much doctors could have done for the former President again.
“It is a great loss for Trinidad and Tobago,” he said. Funeral arrangements are yet to be announced.
The on-line encyclopedia Wikipedia has already updated its information to indicate that Sir Ellis has died. Sir Ellis was the father of Peter and Margaret Ann. He was also the grandfather of five.
Margaret Ann arrived from Scotland in Trinidad on November 25, the day after Sir Ellis’ stroke. It was customary for Margaret Ann to return home every year to celebrate Sir Ellis’ birthday on December 28, which is observed in the Roman Catholic tradition as Holy Innocents Day. Sir Ellis’s full name was Ellis Emmanuel Innocent Clarke.