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Samaroo’s founder dies at 90

By Janelle De Souza Saturday, February 5 2011

click on pic to zoom in
Norman Samaroo... founder of Samaroo's Limited...
Norman Samaroo... founder of Samaroo's Limited...

Popular Port-of-Spain businessman Norman Samaroo, the founder of the Carnival supplies store Samaroo’s Limited, died of a heart attack at his home in Miami on Thursday.

Born in San Fernando, Samaroo, 90, started Samaroo’s Limited at 3-5 Observatory Street, Port-of-Spain. He turned the business into the number one Carnival supplier in Trinidad and Tobago (TT), branding the name that is now synonymous with Carnival.

Samaroo was known as one of TT’s former bookmakers. He promoted boxing under Regency Promotions, was a fete promoter and a member of the Arima Race Club. He was also the former owner of the Valley View Hotel and the Hotel Normandie.

According to Samaroo’s nephew and managing director of the Samaroo Group of Companies, Steve Samaroo, Norman retired to Miami “a few years ago” in order to be closer to his two daughters, Ingrid Gittens and Sonya Samaroo. He was also the father of Greer Subini, Jimmy Samaroo and the grandfather of seven.

Steve said the family recognised Samaroo had a full life and they are grateful that he was not ailing. Steve said he was “taking his death hard” because Samaroo was a mentor and father to him. He grew up with Samaroo in Cascade and worked at the store on Observatory Street. Samaroo taught him the business and passed the mantle to him 20 years ago.

“He was a lover of the culture and was a former Mas player himself. He goes back to the days of Harold Saldenah, George Bailey, Ken Morris, Edmond Hart,” recalled Steve. “He was noted for opening the store seven days a week to serve the public in the Carnival trade. His reputation grew to be the largest supplier of Carnival supplies in the country.

“He was a great but very humble man,” said Steve. “Everybody knew him as Sam. He helped people, fed the poor, helped orphanages and even donated his property on Observatory Street in Port-of-Spain to the Credo Foundation.”

According to Steve, Samaroo was “a big churchgoer”. In fact, he was an elder at the St Ann’s Church of Scotland and Greyfriars Church on Frederick Street. Sunday was the day he dedicated to the church. Therefore, Samaroo’s Limited will close its doors on Sunday out of respect.

Funeral arrangements were still being made yesterday but the service will be held in Miami next week. There will also be a memorial service in TT and the public will be advised as soon as arrangements are made. A condolence book is also available for customers to sign.

Gerard Kelly of Gerard Kelly children’s Carnival band told Newsday he grew up with Samaroo on Observatory Street. “I used to play Mas with my uncle, Harold Saldenah, and in my junior days playing King of Carnival, the Samaroo family have been the people who we got all our local supplies from over the years,” said Kelly. “Even now as I am involved in children’s Carnival, I come here year after year to choose materials. Carnival without Mr Samaroo... one will have to wonder why. He will be really missed in the artform.”

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