The eulogy for Clive Pantin was delivered by his son Bernard at Tuesday’s funeral Mass at St Theresa’s Church, Woodbrook. Due to its length, the eulogy will be presented in two parts.
Last Saturday (September 30) morning, Clive Pantin completed his lifelong journey and quest, completing his service to people and his God in the hope of a place in heaven, reuniting with his parents and siblings who went before him. He was as prepared as one could be, having spent the last few years quietly awaiting this moment. He lived a full life.
Entering this world as the fifth of ten children to Julian and Agnes Pantin, he followed Gerry, Tony, Rosa, and Geoffrey. Geoffrey as his immediate bigger brother became his partner in crime, sports colleague and lifelong friend. Like most boys of that age in the 1940s and living in Newtown, Geoffrey and Clive were the typical teenagers, spending hours on end in the Queen’s Park Savannah, playing all sport and biking to Belmont Intermediate.
They were ideal for each other as brothers, Geoffrey – bold and mischievous, Clive – the quiet foil. This bond endured for almost 80 years until Uncle Geoff passed away a few years ago.
When Clive visited Geoff at the hospital just hours before he passed away, he said to him “you are a lucky man: you are going to see our God” and expressed his own jealousy that he had to wait. That simply summed up how he saw life – service to man in service of God.
With Gerard and Tony choosing to become priests, and elder sister Rosa a nun, there must have been a powerful influence on Clive as he completed his secondary schooling at St Mary’s College. He believed he had a vocation for the priesthood and embarked on his studies in French and Spanish in Ireland. He graduated from the University of Dublin in 1954, and returned home to Fatima as a prefect to teach in 1954.
As time passed, dad accepted that his vocation did not lie in the priesthood and he settled into the role of a lay teacher.
Within a couple years, he was on a plane in 1957 as a member of the Trinidad and Tobago national football team to play in Jamaica, to make his debut at inside left. What a contrast!
Dad never boasted nor even talked much about his sporting exploits. The one story we remember him telling was that of how he got a scar on his right upper arm from an injury playing hurling when he was in Ireland. Hurling – one of the fastest and dangerous field sports played with a stick and ball.
But there were not a lot of stories about his time with the national football or hockey teams. Perhaps his proudest sporting moment was winning the 1959 FA Trophy with Casuals in front of the Grand Stand. He cherished it not simply for the importance of winning the trophy, but the way they did it with an injured goalkeeper, and by sheer grit. Substitutes were not possible in those days. Geoff was also a member of that team.
It was in 1957 and 1958 that Geoff’s influence kicked into high gear and they courted and married two Teixiera girls on the same day in a memorable triple wedding of three sisters in Maraval. Having grown up as boys together, they entered the 1960s building families together, with the impeccable timing of having their first boys two months apart, and improving with the second to only a ten-day difference.
In 1961 he headed to Jamaica to do his Diploma in Education, mum alongside him, with a precocious two-year-old son and the second boy as a babe in arms. During that year our first sister Anna was born in Jamaica.
He returned to Trinidad in late 1962 now with three children under the age of five and a population excited about building a newly independent nation. He found a way to mix his passion for education and sport, still continuing to play club football, hockey and cricket.
We were too young and never got to see him at his best, but I recall the day we dropped him off to play a match for Fatima against St Mary’s while we went with mum and Geoff and their family to Maracas.
By the time we got back to pick him up, he had scored 150 against a talented St Mary’s team which included some future national players like Bernard Julien. In those days teachers played for the college team in the top tiers of national cricket.
At Fatima he was involved as sports master and was part of the historic first-ever win of the National Intercol title in 1965. Everald ‘Gally’ Cummings was a part of the historic 1965 Fatima team. Gally and dad remained close throughout. With his permission I share this story.
Gally called on Saturday to tell me how much he was feeling the loss and that it would be too hard to come here today. With emotion in his voice, he started with the touching words “I am what I am because of that man”, recounting how he was spotted at age 14 by coach Anthony Gouveia who recommended that Clive find a place for him in Fatima. He also told me stories of how dad continued to counsel him as he embarked on a pro career in the United States and over the years subsequently.
I reminded Gally that what he did was take full advantage of an opportunity, and that he too had served Trinidad and Tobago well over the years, through to this day with his work with underprivileged children in the Enterprise area in Chaguanas. Those were the kinds of things that gave Clive his greatest pride, seeing people taking advantage of their opportunities and sharing them with others.
In the late 1960s he went on to work in projects outside of Fatima, assisting Hugh Henderson with the launch of the Wes Hall Youth Cricket League, which unearthed such great talent across the length and breadth of Trinidad and Tobago. In his spare time, he would also do some work as a freelance sports radio and TV commentator at the request of his close Casuals friend – Raffie Knowles.
We all know that he enjoyed and loved being able to mix education and sport successfully in moulding young citizens.
Exactly 50 years ago we moved into Woodbrook, a block away from this Church and a seven-minute walk from Fatima. He had the geography down pat.
A couple of years’ later education took a decisive edge over sport as he became Principal of Fatima in 1972.
Clive Pantin was the first lay principal of a Holy Ghost Fathers college, but some would argue that he was as close to a priest as you could get. In his new role, he channelled his energies to myriad activities:
Developing a language lab;
Building an audio-visual centre;
Piloting projects for Spanish teaching videos and co-authoring later editions of ‘Vamos Amigos’;
Building a vocational centre;
Introducing and widening the choice of subjects through the efforts of Vice Principal Fr Gerry Farfan CSSp;
Ray Holman starting a steel band and Glen Roach inaugurating a calypso competition;
Participating in the Mucurapo Community Project accepting students from the Junior Secondary into Fatima.
I remember how especially thrilled he would be when past students from that Mucurapo Project would call him to say how well they were doing in life. Dad believed in giving everyone a chance and helping them to achieve their fullest potential. TO BE CONTINUED