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Sir Ellis suffers massive stroke

Sir Ellis, 93, was rushed to the West Shore Medical, Cocorite, on Wednesday after complaining of feeling unwell. “He is the same way. The same way,” a source close to Sir Ellis told the T&T Guardian yesterday. Health Minister Therese Baptiste-Cornelis said the entire Cabinet was concerned about Sir Ellis’ illness. In an brief interview yesterday, Baptiste-Cornelis said the Cabinet “wished Sir Ellis a speedy recovery. “He is one of the great minds of our nation and we wish that he will recover quickly to continue contributing positively towards the development of T&T,” she said. The Opposition People’s National Movement (PNM) also extended best wishes for a speedy recovery to Sir Ellis.

Acting general secretary of the PNM, Ashton Ford, said the party was praying for the former President to recover to continue his service to the nation. There was a news blackout on details of Sir Ellis’ condition. Government sources said Sir Ellis was a private citizen and the details of his condition could not be revealed, via the Government. The source said, however, that the Chief Medical Officer had been in contact with the hospital to be updated on Sir Ellis’ condition. Sir Ellis, T&T’s first president, was an only child born on December 28, 1917 into a middle class family of Belmont. He received his secondary education at St Mary's College, where he won an island scholarship in mathematics. He pursued his tertiary education at London University where he obtained his L.L.B. He was called to the Bar at Gray’s Inn, London, in 1941. Not long after his return to Trinidad and Tobago, Ellis Clarke was called to the Bar, engaging in private practice from 1941-1954. Between 1954 and 1962 he held several posts in the Colonial Government: Solicitor General, Deputy Colonial Secretary, Attorney General and constitutional adviser to the Cabinet.

After the attainment of Independence, Ellis Clarke became a foreign diplomat, holding numerous posts between 1962 to 1976, sometimes simultaneously, including Trinidad and Tobago's permanent representative to the United Nations. He was an ambassador for Trinidad and Tobago to the United States and Mexico. He was also Trinidad and Tobago's representative on the Council of the Organisation of American States. He also held the post of chairman of BWIA from 1968 to 1973. He was appointed as Governor-General by the Queen of England in 1972 and assumed his duties on January 31, 1973.
He was T&T’s second and last Governor-General, succeeding Sir Solomon Hochoy. Upon proclamation of republican status on September 24, 1976, the post of Governor-General became obsolete. Following a meeting of the Electoral College, as provided by the constitution, Ellis Clarke was elected unopposed as President, becoming the first President of the Republic of Trinidad and Tobago, an office he held until 1987. Ellis Clarke was involved in the draft constitution, culminating in his attendance at the Marlborough House conference in Venezuela from May 28 to June 8, 1962.

He was bestowed the Companion of St. Michael and St George (C.M.G.) in 1960, and made a Knight Bachelor (Kt Bachelor) in 1963. He was one of the first to be awarded T&T’s highest honour: the Trinity Cross (TC) in 1969. He also holds El Gran Cordon, the highest national award in Venezuela. Although he ceased to use the title Sir after the country became a republic, since retirement from the presidency he has re-adopted his title and has generally been referred to as “former President, Sir Ellis Clarke or Sir Ellis.” He was married to Lady Ermyntrude Clarke (1921–2002) for almost 50 years. They had three children: Peter Clarke (married to Suzanne Traboulay, a former beauty queen), Margaret-Ann (married to Gordon Fisken, of Edinburgh, Scotland) and Richard (who died as a young child). Sir Ellis also has four grandsons—John Peter, Michael, Alexander and David—and one granddaughter, Katrina. Ellis Clarke was one of six experts worldwide asked to submit reports to Australia's Republic Advisory Committee in 1993, detailing his country's experience in moving from a constitutional monarchy to a republic.

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