Valley lay in an open casket, adorned with PNM pennants, mourned by friends, family and colleagues. The mix of politicians including Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar, Opposition Leader Dr Keith Rowley, COP leader Winston Dookeran, House Speaker Wade Mark, Senate President Timothy Hamel-Smith and others, prompted officiating priest Fr Clyde Harvey, to quip that, “at least on this day, all politicians are on the same side of the aisle.
Before the service began, mourners paid tribute including Gloria Hoyte who said Valley was a spiritual man who loved God.
Four eulogies were given, by Valley’s two sons Kerwyn and Sean, his brother Dr Clinton Valley and Dr Rowley.
Kerwyn thanked well-wishers for their outpouring of love to the family of the deceased, including the many phone calls and texts. This support, said Kerwyn, came across the lines of politics, ethnicity and nationality. Kerwyn said his father was always looking to tomorrow. “He always visualised Trinidad as an Eden, a paradise with no bars on windows or bars on doors, or in our hearts. In his Eden, everyone was equal and all are one,” the young Valley said.
Kerwyn asked all present to work to make TT into the Eden his father envisioned. “Let his example inspire us to be better and do better. Let that be our everlasting gift to this beautiful country,” Kerwyn said. Sean Valley described Valley’s time with his family, including family get-togethers, trips overseas and most recently his daughter’s wedding. “Dad, thank you for being a wonderful father,” said Sean. “We love you and will miss you. God speed.”
Dr Clinton Valley, a pastor by training, said he and Ken were from a large family of the humble roots of a one-room shack off the Couva Main Road. “Ken had never gone to secondary school, instead becoming a pupil-teacher and later on passing his London GCEs by studying late into the night and early morning with his equally ambitious siblings,” Dr Valley said.
“Ken loved the PNM. His allegiance was not to individuals but the ideals on which the party was founded.” Not only had he written a book, Dr Valley said, whose first chapter was about integrity in public life, but he had shown a true consistency between the values he (Ken) held and the choices he had made. Clifton then gave his view on Valley’s exit from active politics when then prime minister Patrick Manning — despite major and heated protests — dropped Valley from the election slate in the 2007 general election.
“Ken’s unceremonious exit from politics a few years ago was precipitated by his deep love for this country,” said Clifton. “He sacrificed his political career for he preferred to bow out of politics with his values intact rather than bow down at the altar of political expediency.” Many present clapped these remarks. But at least one man did not. Manning did not clap.
When he spoke, Rowley recalled that in the PNM’s dark days after their loss of government in 1986, he had first met Valley, when both were paired off as canvassers.
“There was this mountain of a man, full of energy, wanting to canvass the Glencoe Valley for the PNM in 1986,” said Rowley. “If there was a man for a crisis — especially when the cause seemed hopeless — Ken Valley was that man. From the time we met in that election season of 1986, Ken Valley remained a loyal and reliable friend.”
Rowley said the PNM had asked him to be Diego Martin Central candidate in the 1990 bye-election but he had instead suggested Valley, who as a former public servant would likely get a lot of support from the public servants of Diamond Vale.
“That action by my friend had an effect on me, because if Ken had not agreed to run in Diego Martin Central I may never have agreed to run for elections in this country,” Rowley said.
Rowley said he lacked Valley’s great sense of humour, prompting a quiet giggle from Harvey. Rowley recalled Valley once laughing when the two men had worked through the night until 5.30 am to write a speech. “He saw humour in that.”
Rowley was amazed by Valley’s perpetual optimism. “He never saw anything negative about anything,” Rowley related. “He always saw the positive side of everybody or anything. Those of us who were very close to him from time to time either seriously or jokingly would accuse him of being naive, because he saw positives where none was visible.” This included Valley’s vision for opening up markets to Central America and Cuba, which he achieved. “Wait and you will see,” had been Valley’s assurance to sceptics over his plans for trade with Cuba.
Rowley said despite the two men being on opposite sides during Rowley’s leadership challenge to Manning’s then leadership of the PNM in 1996, he (Rowley) and Valley remained deep friends. “As I tried to convince Ken, he would call somebody and say, ‘Give the boy a beer and let me talk some sense into him’,” Rowley recalled. “Ken Valley was a very loyal soul. He bore no grudges. He didn’t argue to win an argument; he had to have the substance of the argument”
Harvey, in his homily, also said he had never seen Valley angry, but instead always seen him smiling and saying something wholesome. He said Valley’s many conversations with people had generated fruits which had benefitted all. Harvey recalled, “Ken lived life to the full but suffered greatly in the end.” In his final prayer, Harvey said Valley in his illness had known Christ’s Passion, and he now prayed Valley would now also know Christ’s resurrection.