He died yesterday at 8.50 am at St Clair Medical Centre after a prolonged illness, cancer, said his daughter Eleanor. “He was ill for a while but he was managing over time,” she said.
Donaldson’s wife, Marjorie, said he had had a long battle with cancer. She said he leaves to mourn three children — John, Joye and Edmond, and five grandchildren.
“He was a good man for us — a wonderful father and grandfather,” said Marjorie. “We have nothing but good memories of him.”
The publication, Who’s Who of Trinidad and Tobago, said he was born on March 31, 1936, suggesting he died just 12 days short of his 77th birthday.
The son of the late John and Eudora Donaldson, he was educated at Rosary Boys’, Tranquility Boys’, Osmond High School, St Mary’s College, and the University of British Colombia (Canada). He served at TT’s diplomatic missions at the United Nations, Brussels, London and Washington DC. Donaldson’s father had been a Minister in the Cabinet of TT’s first Prime Minister, the late Dr Eric Williams. Donaldson’s daughter is now TT’s Solicitor-General, Eleanor (Joye) Donaldson- Honeywell SC.
PNM chairman, Franklin Khan, told Newsday of his sadness at Donaldson’s death.
“John Donaldson’s passing is a very sad moment for the Peoples National Movement,” said Khan. He said Donaldson represented an old brigade and was deeply cherished by the party. “He contributed tremendously as a Minister and an ambassador, and had served as Inspector of Missions.”
Khan said Donaldson was a stalwart for the PNM and had come from a strong PNM family including his father.
Khan hailed Donaldson’s patriotism, saying, “He loved his country and he represented a generation that had dedicated their lives to their country.”
Khan urged young people to follow Donaldson’s example of service, that just as President Anthony Carmona at his inauguration on Monday had urged everyone stop the ranting and raving and instead get together to build the country.
On a personal note, Khan recalled how well he and Donaldson had worked together when they had respectively been chairman and vice-chairman of the PNM.
While Khan was in a higher post to Donaldson, as a newcomer to politics Khan had relied on the sage advice offered by Donaldson as a political veteran. Donaldson’s tutoring was always offered with respect, related Khan.
PNM leader, Dr Keith Rowley, expressed his condolences in a statement sent to media houses from Balisier House.
“It is with a profound sense of grief and loss that I, on my own behalf and on behalf of the People’s National Movement (PNM) record the death of one of our great Party Stalwarts Mr. John S Donaldson, Junior,” wrote Rowley.
He said Donaldson was a dedicated and loyal party member who made a sterling contribution to the development of the PNM and to Trinidad and Tobago.
“Mr. Donaldson will be remembered as an authoritative figure who served as Vice Chairman of the Party for many years to 2010,” Rowley said.
“John Donaldson had an illustrious career in the Public Service as a diplomat including serving as Ambassador to Washington and as a politician, having served as a Senator from 1976 to 1981 and in the House of Representatives from 1981 to 1986 as Member of Parliament for Port- of- Spain North.”
He served Minister of Labour and Minister of National Security, and from 2002 to 2010 was the Inspector of Missions, recalled Rowley.
“John Donaldson will be remembered for his simple and unassuming lifestyle, for not only his role in the country’s history and as one of our outstanding athletes, but also for his incisive thought and his dry wit, for his love of family, love of country and love of the PNM,” Rowley said. “I extend my deepest sympathy to his wife Marjorie and his children John Junior, Joy and Edmond. May his soul rest in peace.”
Minister of National Security, Jack Warner, offered his and his Ministry’s condolences on the death of his predecessor.
“Mr Donaldson had the distinction of being the longest serving Minister of National Security — a total of nine years that spanned 1976 to 1985,” said Warner. “He was also the Member of Parliament for St Ann’s West and former Minister of Labour, Social Security and Co-operatives and former Minister of External Affairs, as well as a diplomat.
“Having spent such a long time in national service, Mr Donaldson would surely have left his mark on the institutions that he was a part of and on the persons with whom he interacted. As such, his contribution to national development cannot be quantified or expressed in simple terms. May his soul rest in peace.”