No eulogy for late PM’s sister
By DARCEL CHOY Sunday, February 25 2007
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Daughter of the late Dr Eric Williams, Erica Williams-Connell, leaves St Theresa's RC Church following her aunt's funeral. ...
FLORA EUNICE GITTENS, sister of this country’s first Prime Minister Dr Eric Williams, did not want a eulogy read at her funeral service.
Yesterday, her friends and relatives respected her final wishes by foregoing the traditional funeral tribute and paying glowing tribute to the woman who, for many years, played a vital supporting role in the politics of Trinidad and Tobago.
Included in the service were simple but heartfelt “Tributes to Granny,” delivered by her great-granddaughters Marissa Gittens and Kayla-Jordan Parris.
Also paying final tribute to Gittens during her funeral Mass at the St Theresa’s RC Church in Woodbrook yesterday was parish priest Fr Gervais Girod, who recalled her many years of service in that church community.
Fr Girod, who described Gittens, 87, who died at her home last Sunday, as organised, determined and always in control, also said she was a very spiritual person who put God at the centre of her life.
“She always came to Mass every Sunday with her family. I remember every Saturday when she would come to church, bent over while her hands shook. She would come and call me and we would sit on a particular bench for confession,” he said.
Gittens was a founding parishioner at St Theresa’s and was an active lay member there for several years.
“She was present for the very first Mass celebrated in the church. It was easy to see that she was very faithful to this church,” Fr Girod said.
He recalled the days when Gittens helped her brother while he was involved in politics.
“She was very involved in her brother’s life, so she was involved in the politics and the leadership of our country,” he said.
Among those paying tribute to Gittens, was Erica Williams-Connell, daughter of the late Dr Eric Williams, who said her aunt was like the Energizer bunny.
“When she broke her hip she had the use of a walker and we had to remove the wheels to slow her down,” she remembered.
Williams-Connell said her aunt was devoted to helping people and prepared Sunday lunch for the St Vincent De Paul Society for 36 years.
She said when her aunt was diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease 15 years ago, she “read every piece of literature” she could find on the condition.
“She was considered the perfect patient because she listened and did everything her doctors advised,” she said.
“The year she became bedridden she never complained and always maintained her sense of humour. Nothing was lost, not the cheery smile or the charming voice,” she said.
Gittens is survived by her eight children; Margaret, Patricia, Elizabeth, Kenneth, Claire, Eunice, Stephen, Christine and Kathleen; 12 grandchildren; five great-grandchildren; three sisters and one brother.