FLASHBACK - Hon. Clifton De Coteau, Minister of National Diversity and Social Integration, receives a poppy upon entry to the Parliament, in this photo from November 2012. The poppies are distributed in commemoration of Remembrance Day. (Image courtesy Parliament of Trinidad and Tobago)

Radhica De Silva and Gail Alexander

UNC founder Basdeo Panday: “ I extend deep condolences to his family, and best wishes for their comfort in this sad time . I hope he rests in peace.”

Opposition Leader Kamla Persad-Bissessar: “We in UNC have lost a friend, brother, a father figure and most of all, a patriot. Clifton was a true stalwart, offering members, and by extension T&T, decades of committed service for the people’s betterment,”

“Few have had the distinguished honour of serving at all levels of our great party as Clifton did, testament not only of his commitment to the UNC but dedication to our country. Clifton was more than just a UNC representative, he embodied the true beauty of humanity in his actions of kindness, people-centred approach and love for those around him – qualities which enabled him to be the first UNC MP for Moruga Tableland. “

“Fondly known as Uncle Coto, his service extended beyond politics. As a teacher, school principal and school supervisor he was able to impact the lives of thousands of students. Coto had an impeccable work ethic . When he served as Minister he would be in his office by 5 am – such was his dedication and passion for service.

Oropouche MP Dr Roodal Moonilal: “ Coto,” as he was fondly called, will be remembered as a die-hard fighter in the cause of nation-building. I have so many pleasant memories of him as my parliamentary and Cabinet colleague. I don’t think we ever had a disagreement in 20 years, such was the measure of the man. He was strong yet compassionate and had the gentle spirit of elevated minds,” Moonilal said.

MP for Mayaro Rushton Paray: “Clifton was instrumental in shaping the hearts and minds of thousands of young people in T&T,” Paray said. Like Francis, he too was educated by De Coteau.

“He was a stern disciplinarian not only to students but to his staff as well. He truly transformed St. Stephen’s College to become the Pride of Princes Town.”

Couva South MP Rudy Indarsingh, who was DeCoteau’s seat mate in Parliament previously, said, “It is with the heaviest of hearts that I learnt of the passing of my former political comrade in arms – a faithful soldier of our party, and faithful servant of T&T,”

“Clifton and I shared a warm, close relationship, we sat next to each other in the Lower House, and during those wonderful five years, Clifton showed himself to be an expert at old talk, and loved showing off his collection of elegantly crafted pens and collectors’ watches.”

“Clifton dedicated his life to the service of his community, our country, and thousands of children. Throughout his various roles, Clifton maintained a humility, a willingness to serve others before self, and, both figuratively and literally, a level head. The void left by the passing of my brother has made our nation poorer, but indeed, his legacy and service has made us all richer. Clifton, you’ve lived a full life, you now deserve your full rest.”

Moruga MP Michelle Benjamin on Facebook hailed De Coteau as a father figure , mentor and motivator. “ You were the pillar of my strength in my political journey, you always gave silent advice no matter how choppy or dim the journey,”

PNM PRO Laurel Lezama Lee Sing : “The PNM extends deep condolences to Mr De Coteau’s family and and his service to country as an educator and politicians has been noted. More will be said in Parliament ahead.”

Education Ministry: “The Ministry of Education extends sincere condolences to the family and friends of former Minister of State in the Ministry of Education, Clifton De Coteau on his passing.”

Mr. De Coteau served as Minister of State in the Ministry of Education from 2010 to 2012. He was the chairman of the National Task Force on School Violence and Indiscipline which was responsible for the relaunch and review of the National School Code of Conduct.

He was also an educator and former principal of St. Stephen’s College, Princes Town who played a pivotal role in the lives of many. He made great contributions not only to the further development of our nation’s children, but he also touched the lives of many teachers during his tenure as School Supervisor III until 2002 when he retired.