Carmona who is currently embroiled in national controversy surrounding several allegations including that of using state funding to purchase bottles of wine bearing the Presidential Seal, struggled at times to contain his emotion and tears at the funeral service held at Santa Rosa Roman Catholic Church in Arima. He, his wife Reema and their children were among the large gathering of mourners in the church who came together to honour a man who had served as Butler at President’s House for the past 39 years.
Richardson, 56, died last week after suffering a heart attack. He entered President’s House at the time Sir Ellis Clarke (now deceased) was President and during his tenure, served five Presidents the last of whom was Carmona. As he addressed mourners, a weeping President Carmona looked to his own children seated nearby as he had one important message for them.
Do not emulate politicians, Carmona said, but rather follow in the footsteps of Richardson whose life was dedicated to serving.
He said there were many people in society who were trying to pull each other down instead of bringing them up. “When people leave this Church they must be nicer, exude love, be helpful, be genuine and look out for the less fortunate.
Not skin and grin. We must invoke the power to ensure we leave this Church a better person, father, man, woman, politician and a better leader of a man,” Carmona said as he struggled for composure.
“Choy thank you very much for your service to me, my family, my friends...to all of us,” President Carmona said as he struggled and then lost the battle to hold back tears.
“There are many big, big people.
Many big pappy (in society), men filled with money...I do not want my children to emulate them. I want them to emulate Choy Richardson.
Sometimes, he added, it is the simple man whose work goes unnoticed yet whose service makes all the difference. He said the question we all have to ask is, “what manner of man or women were we?” The President said Richardson was a person who made his children Christian and Anura’s transition from private citizens to being very much in the public eye (as he - Carmona - became Head of State), an enjoyable one. Carmona said Richardson inspired those around him.
The President said he met many lazy persons in power who did not do much, but Richardson was a, “small man who did things in an exceptional manner.” “I want my children to emulate Choy and his capacity for excellent service,” he reiterated. Richardson began working at President’s House when he was 17, serving under Sir Ellis Clarke, then Noor Hassanali, Arthur NR Robinson, George Maxwell Richards and Carmona.
One of his best friends, Dr Wayne Haywood, said that Richardson had a magnetism that drew others to him.
“Choy was the party, maybe that was why he received so many invitations.
He was life,” Haywood said.
He added that while he was unable to make it to his friend’s wedding when he said “I do” to bride Rhonda back in 1994, he made one last promise. “Your best man is here for you.” Haywood said ‘service’ was now spelled differently.
“It is now spelled Choy. He was the epitome of professionalism. He was a perfectionist, setting every table, folding every napkin...his job was his world. He was born to serve and understood his purpose. Choy was a man of honour, confidentiality.
Sometimes we forgot that he worked at President’s House. His mission was always to serve,” Haywood said. Richardson leaves to mourn his wife Rhonda and sons Daniel and Dwayne.
The service was attended not only by members of the Presidential House staff but also members of the Defense Force. Also in attendance were former House Speaker Barry Sinanan, Zalayhar Hassanali - widow of former President Noor Hassanali - and Dr Jean Richards, wife of former President George Maxwell Richards. Former Senate President Dr Linda Baboolal also sat among mourners. As the sombre Head of State was making his way out of the church clutching his wife Reema’s hand, Carmona waved off reporters who tried to ask him questions. Following the service, Richardson was interred at the nearby Santa Rose cemetery.