He did not want a eulogy at his funeral, but former vice principal of Queen’s Royal College (QRC) Patrick White was still celebrated as a doting father and dedicated teacher as friends, colleagues and relatives paid their last respects on Tuesday morning.
White began teaching French and Latin at the college in 1958. He was appointed vice principal from 1968 to 1988 when he retired.
He died at his home last Wednesday, aged 89.
In his eulogy at the All Saints Anglican Church, Marli Street, Port of Spain, White’s younger son Mark remembered his father as a man of principle, who valued honesty.
He said the elder White was an accomplished musician and teacher who spoke four different languages and lived by a strict code of ethics while encouraging others to do the same.
“As far as truth, ethics, morality go, there were no grey areas. In our father’s thinking, if it was not 100 per cent true, it was tainted and therefore not true.
“Eulogies are often rose-tinted, but Dad would not have wanted any spin or twisting of the facts, just what is true.
“He was also the moral stature of his imagination, empathy – a word he disliked – kindness and faith in humanity, a man who lived massively by the tenets he espoused.
“I wish to state for the record, these words, and those to come, are not your typical fulsome, romanticised, post-mortem praise, not by any measure that would sicken me as much as it would him.”
White said while his father lost his sight in the later part of his life, his imagination and ability to recognise the good in others was one of his most memorable features.
During his tribute, Winston Douglas, was QRC principal when White was vice-principal, remembered his colleague as a perfectionist who dedicated himself to every assignment.
Recalling the turbulent socio-political climate of Trinidad and Tobago during the 1960s and 1970s, Douglas said White’s character was necessary for the college’s transformation during this time.
“What he brought with him was an insistence on doing things right and doing things well. He was very determined about that.
“But though he was strict, he was very human, supremely human and humane.
“I say this because at that period of time in our history, to make the transition from what we were to where we were going, we needed people like that, and we had them in large numbers. To these people we owe a very great debt, because without them, I fail to see how the transition we had to make could have been as effective and as painless as it was.”
Douglas said White’s contribution to the culture of the college was invaluable, as his commitment to teaching extended beyond preparing his students for examinations.