Chambers’ widow dies after fall
By Sasha Harrinanan Saturday, October 20 2012
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Juliana Chambers, wife of former prime minister, the late George Chambers, unexpectedly passed away on Thursday evening.
Described by her niece Lou Ann Moo King as a “very private lady”, Chambers, 81, collapsed in the bathroom of her home at Santa Margarita, St Augustine.
Moo King recalled how she found out the shocking news of her aunt’s death shortly before 8 pm on Thursday, while at a PNM public meeting in Diego Martin.
“My mom and I were at the PNM (People’s National Movement) meeting at Starlite Shopping Plaza in Four Roads (Diego Martin) when she decided to call Aunty Julie. My cousin Andrea (Chambers) answered the phone and said, ‘It seems like Mummy is not here with us anymore.’
“Mom asked what she meant because Aunty Julie was in fairly good health and Andrea said she had apparently collapsed in the bathroom and wasn’t responsive.
My aunty liked to have a bath before sitting down to listen to the PNM meetings on the radio but that night, Andrea became concerned her mother was taking too long in the bathroom and called out to her.
“Not getting a response, she tried opening the door, only to find it locked. She called a male cousin to come over and help break down the door and that’s when they found Aunty Julie lying unconscious on the floor. Andrea called for an ambulance but was told none was available,” Moo King said.
This prompted Chambers’ niece to approach Opposition MP Dr Amery Browne, who was one of the speakers at the PNM meeting, to request his help in securing an ambulance for her aunt.
“I approached Dr Browne a few minutes later, after he finished speaking, and he immediately called the same 811 number, only to be told an ambulance had since been dispatched to my aunt’s home. My mother and I got to Aunty Julie’s home at about 8.30 pm, only to hear the EMTs (emergency medical technicians) were unable to find a pulse. But it wasn’t until the DMO (District Medical Officer) arrived at about 11 pm that she was pronounced dead,” Moo King said. Asked if an autopsy would be performed to determine her aunt’s cause of death, Moo King told Newsday she understood her cousin had decided not to request one. “My aunt was a very private, dignified person, so maybe this was Andrea’s way of protecting her from any public scrutiny over her cause of death.”
Chambers was last seen in public about six weeks ago, during the PNM’s 50th Independence celebrations and commemorative flag raising ceremony at Balisier House, Port-of-Spain at midnight on August 30.
Following the re-enactment ceremony, Chambers declined to comment on the posthumous award of the Order of the Republic; this country’s highest honour, to her late husband but did say she was pleased to have attended the Independence Day celebrations at PNM headquarters.
“This was a very enjoyable evening here because I was present in 1962,” she had said. Asked how it felt to be present in 1962 and at the observance 50 years later, Chambers said, “the pride that was there in 1962 is still there now.”
Opposition Leader Dr Keith Rowley told Newsday he learned of Chambers’ death during the latter part of the PNM rally in Diego Martin.
“We were informed at the end of the meeting that she had passed away so we stood for a minute of silence at the end of the meeting before we dispersed. I will issue a statement from party headquarters at Balisier House.”
Up to press time yesterday, no official statement was forthcoming from Balisier House but PNM General Secretary Ashton Ford said one would likely be forthcoming today, after the party had confirmed certain information with the Chambers family.
Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar yesterday expressed her condolences to Chambers’ family.
“It is with sadness and regret that I learned today of the passing of Mrs Juliana Chambers...a devoted wife and mother, who recently celebrated the observance of this country’s 50th anniversary endorsing that ‘the pride that was there in 1962, is still there now’,” Persad-Bissessar said. “She was a consummate professional having worked as a senior officer in the Banking Industry but supported her husband who succeeded Trinidad and Tobago’s first Prime Minister, Dr Eric Williams in politics, with quiet dignity and decorum.”
George Chambers was prime minister from 1981 to 1986.