An educator, a disciplinarian, a long-serving public servant, a minister, a community and social activist, a sportsman, a photographer, a loving husband, and a father.
These were some of the many words used to describe Clifton De Coteau by his relatives during his funeral service at St Stephen’s Anglican Church in Princes Town yesterday. Due to the COVID-19 protocols, only family, close friends and his political colleagues were allowed inside the church. The casket remained closed at the request of his family and a framed photograph of him was placed on it.
Opposition Leader Kamla Persad-Bissessar did not attend the church service.
During the eulogy, his niece Carlene Smith and granddaughter Cydney De Couteau recalled his many accomplishments in various spheres.
He lived life to the fullest, they said. Smith said he worked tirelessly as a mentor for young people in Princes Town and Moruga. And while he may have been many things to many people to his family he would always be irreplaceable, said his granddaughter.
Recalling that as a principal he rode his motorbike to school, she said he believed in the adage – “spare the road and spoil in the child.” His daughter Lisa, who lives in the United States, was unable to attend his funeral due to the COVID-19 restrictions.
However, she shared her fond childhood memories of her father during a pre-recording which was played during the eulogy.
De Coteau, fondly called Coto, “was the man around the town,” said Fr Michael Greenidge. He said it was impossible to live in Princes Town and not have known or meet De Coteau or hear his name.
“You would have to live in Mars not to know his name.”
He said De Coteau lived his life fulfilling the plan and purpose of God in all that he did for humanity and mankind of T&T.
“He lived three scores and ten so there is no such thing as an untimely death.”
Greendige advised the congregation to take a page out of De Coteau’s life.
Last Friday De Coteau was exiting his car after returning home when he collapsed and died.
In De Coteau’s honour, his political colleagues formed a line in the churchyard as the hearse was leaving with his body.
The Ujama Ambutama drummers also paid tribute to him in music and song.
Other politicians paying their last respects were former ministers Tim Gopeesingh and Chandresh Sharma, Oropouche East MP Dr Roodal Moonilal, Couva South MP Rudranath Indarsingh, Naparima MP Rodney Charles, Oropouche West MP Davendranath Tancoo, former minister Prakash Ramadhar, Princes Town Regional Corporation chairman Gowrie Roopnarine, and other council members.
De Coteau entered politics in 2003 and served as the councillor for Inverness/ Princes Town. In the 2010 general elections, he was elected the Moruga/Tableland MP until 2015.
He held several ministerial portfolios under the People’s Partnership Government including Minister of State in the Ministry of Education between May 2010, Minister of National Diversity and Social Integration, and Minister of Gender, Youth and Child Development.
At the time of his passing, he was an alderman at the Princes Town Regional Corporation.