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THANK YOU, MOMMY

By Andre Bagoo Wednesday, January 8 2014

click on pic to zoom in
VETERAN MEDIA PHOTOGRAPHERS: Many  media personnel turned out yesterday to pay their last respect to former Newsday Chairman, CEO, and Editor-in-Chief...
VETERAN MEDIA PHOTOGRAPHERS: Many media personnel turned out yesterday to pay their last respect to former Newsday Chairman, CEO, and Editor-in-Chief...

THERESE Mills, 85, was a journalist par excellence. But she was, first and foremost, a mother, grandmother and greatgrandmother.

“We thank you mommy for your constant, selfless care, protection and comfort,” said one of her daughters, Michele Mills, at a Holy Mass in thanksgiving for the life of Newsday’s founding Editor-in-Chief, Chief Executive Officer and Chairman. “We will miss you every single day.”

The mass was held at the Church of the Nativity, Crystal Stream, Diego Martin.

Three generations of family members, current and former co-workers, politicians and dignitaries and members of the media from across the spectrum attended, saying goodbye to the first woman editor of a national daily newspaper, who died after an abrupt illness on New Year’s Day.

“Up until now in all the tributes, the focus has been on all of her achievements as a journalist,” Michele said. “However, to her children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren, Therese Mills was and always will be mommy, granny and great-granny. She was a single parent that was always prepared to move heaven and earth for her children and grandchildren and often did. For us, she represented both mum and dad growing up.”

Michele noted her mother had an incredible work ethic. “Mommy led by example,” she said. “She taught us the value of hard work. She was generous to a fault.” She also noted Mills’ legendary punctuality, among several of her many great attributes.

“She was never late for anything,” she said. “She had a disdain for disorder. She was a simple woman who stayed out of the limelight. She abhorred all forms of gossip and ole talk. She had a great capacity for forgiveness. She was a great believer that everything happens for a reason and nothing happens before its time.” Michele also noted her mother, a Roman Catholic, was a deeply religious woman and had a special devotion to Mary, Mother of Jesus.

“It is significant that she passed away on the feast of Mary, the Mother of God,” she said. “She was extremely private, even filtering information to her own children. She must have had to bear more than any of us could have imagined. Even to the end she was a true mother who protected her children from worry and concern.”

Marie-Therese Barratt Mills was born on December 14, 1928, at Woodbrook. She is survived by her three children, Michele, Suzanne, and Roger. She was the grandmother of Jerome and Yohance Simonette, Joshua and Amy Matthew, and Nicholas, Nathaniel and Noelle Mills. She was the mother-in-law of Lucia Hunte and grandmother-in-law of Nadine Power-Simonette. She was also the great-grandmother of Adonai Simonette and Josiah Fields.

Mills is preceded in death by her parents Arthur Cyril Barratt and Alice Marion Barratt. Marie-Therese was the sister of George Barratt (deceased), Marion Meyer, Trevor Barratt (deceased), Harold Barratt, and Anne Barratt-Martins.

Celebrants at yesterday’s mass included Fr Gregory Augustine, Fr Kenneth Assing, Fr Emmanuel Pierre and Fr Clyde Harvey. Augustine paid tribute to Mills.

“In the waters of Christ she was baptised and may she now share with him eternal glory,” he said. Roger Baratt, Mills’ nephew, read from Romans 14: 7-9 with its line: “For none of us lives for himself and none of us dies for himself; while we are alive, we are living for the Lord.” The hymns “Blessed Assurance”, “What a Friend We Have in Jesus”, “The Lord is My Shepherd”, “All I Ask of You” and “How Great Thou Art” were sung in the packed church. Fr Augustine noted Mills’ quiet role in guiding the flocks.

“Today a lot is heard and spoken about icons and heroes and mentors and exemplars,” he said. “But for the Kingdom of God the term that is used is shepherd. Like a shepherd, she too taught, guided and showed care, at some length.” Alluding to the Biblical parable of Jesus sharing a few loaves of bread and fish among thousands, he said, “I am sure many ate from the table of Therese Mills. Our country is a better place and is all the more hopeful because of her.”

Fr Augustine continued, “For her, there was no shoddy and quick fix. Everything she did, she did with care and devotion. She took her time. Therese was a woman who got involved.”

He further joked, “She always gave instructions, I am told by her elder sister that even as a child she would give instructions. She would even give instructions to her elder sister! But through it all, she fed and she nurtured. Because she really cared. Therese gave and gave and gave to the end. There are still heroic women. They are very much alive and in our midst.”

Fr Harvey called for prayers for the media and invited the congregation to sing, “God Bless Our Nation”. He recalled an incident two years ago when he blessed Mills’ home.

“She said every day she prayed for her fellow journalists,” he said.

Among those in attendance at the mass were: Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar, Speaker Wade Mark, Legal Affairs Minister Prakash Ramadhar, Communications Minister Gerald Hadeed, Trinidad and Tobago High Commissioner to London Gavin Nicholas, Police Service Commission chairman Professor Ramesh Deosaran, pioneering medical expert Professor Courtenay Bartholomew, businesswoman and philanthropist Hannah Janoura; designer Peter Elias, noted attorney Clive Phelps, National Carnival Commission (NCC) chairman Alison Demas and trade unionist David Abdulah.

Current and former members of Newsday staff from all departments of the paper were in attendance. As were members of the Guardian newspaper, including its editor-in-chief Judy Raymond, Guardian Media Limited managing director Hamid Ghany, political reporter Gail Alexander; editor Suzanne Sheppard. Former Guardian editor-in-chief Lennox Grant also attended, as did CNC3 producer Sampson Nanton.

“She will enter the eternal Kingdom and she will meet the Almighty God whom she worshiped so fervently for all these years,” Fr Augustine said. “May she rest in peace.”

After the mass, Mills was interred at a private family ceremony.

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