Family members assemble close the casket holding the late Clifton De Coteau. (Image: RISHI RAGOONATH)

An educator, a disciplinarian, a long serving public servant, a minister, a community and social activist, a sportsman, a photographer, a loving husband and father…

Clifton De Coteau was all of this and more, recalled his relatives during his funeral service at St Stephen’s Anglican Church in Princes Town, this morning (Monday 25 January 2021).

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.

Opposition Leader Kamla Persad-Bissessar did not attend the church service, but Oropouche MP Dr Roodal Moonilal who was among the politicians in attendance today, said Mrs Persad-Bissessar is expected to attend the cremation at Belgroves Funeral Home in San Fernando. 

During the eulogy, De Coteau’s niece Carlene Smith and granddaughter Cydney De Couteau recalled his many accomplishments in various spheres.

“He lived life to the fullest, and while he may have been many things to many people, to his family he would always be irreplaceable,” they said.

His daughter Lisa, who lives in the United States, was unable to attend his funeral due to the COVID-19 restrictions.  However, a video recording of fond childhood memories with her father was played for the congregation.  

“De Coteau, fondly called Coto, was the man around the town,” said Father Michael Greenidge. 

He said it was impossible to live in Princes Town and not have known or met De Coteau or hear his name.

“You would have to live in Mars not to know his name,” he said.

Saying that there was no such thing as an untimely death, Father Michael said De Coteau lived his life fulfilling the plan and purpose of God.  He advised the congregation to take a page out of De Coteau’s life.

Last Friday, De Coteau was coming out of his car after returning home when he collapsed and died.

Among the politicians in attendance at today’s memorial service were: former ministers Tim Gopeesingh and Chandresh Sharma, Oropouche East MP Dr Roodal Moonilal, Couva South MP Rudranath Indarsingh, Naparima MP Rodney Charles, former minister Prakash Ramadhar, Princes Town Regional Corporation chairman Gowrie Roopnarine and other corporation members. 

In De Coteau’s honour, his political colleagues formed a line in front of the church as the hearse was leaving with his body.  The Ujama Ambutama drummers also paid tribute to him in music and song.

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 Peoples Partnership government including: Minister of State in the Ministry of Education, 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.