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Simply ‘Amazing Grace’

Grace Catherine Walker nee Petty died April 26 at the Eric E Williams Medical Sciences Complex, Mt Hope. Her daughter, Michelle, remembers her mother.

Grace was born on February 23, 1941, to dressmaker Carmen Petty (deceased 1981) and City Councillor for Longdenville, Samuel Jattan (deceased 1985)

Raised in a single-parent household, and with the close support of a large extended family and enduring friendships, Grace was baptised into and maintained an unbreakable commitment to her Catholic faith to which she and those who knew her attributed the unexplainable and many miracles that ultimately earned her the  nickname ‘Amazing Grace’.

She excelled in Mathematics and had a strong penchant for figures, securing her placement in St Joseph’s Convent, Port of Spain, growing in faith and making lasting bonds with her fellow students.

She was known to always carry her chaplet, usually attached to her Prefect badge, as observed by those she encountered. She often recited the decades of the rosary which was the pillar of her strength and resilience in what was to become a lifetime of many health-related events.

Upon her high school graduation, Grace entered the Public Service, performing clerical duties at the Ministry of Labour and Social Security. After several promotions at the Ministry, inclusive of extended secondments at the International Labour Organization (ILO), she was eventually appointed to the position of Administrative/Financial Supervisor at the ILO’s Port of Spain office, an agency of the United Nations.

After 27 years of service, Grace retired in June 1996, in the position of Senior Programme and Administrative Support Officer, serving the Eastern Caribbean and Latin America.

At the onset of her Public Service career, she became acquainted and developed a friendship with a Customs Officer, André Walker from Diego Martin, whom she would eventually wed on March 4, 1962 to the great joy of all of their extended families.

After the initial heartbreak over the loss at birth of their first daughter, who was given the name Charmaine, they were gifted with three healthy and rambunctious children, Gerard, Michelle, and Gregory.

Grown, raised and sheltered by the unconditional love and faith of their parents, they have in turn blessed the growing family with ten grandchildren, including two who are adopted, and five great grandchildren, living in the USA and Canada.

Grace and André shared a love of music and singing, performing in choirs and choral groups, including the San Juan RC, Mary Immaculate Queen of the Universe, and Sacred Heart church choirs. They were also members of Jocelyn Pierre’s Chantwell choral group, among others.

Grace’s voice can be heard on the Sacred Heart choir’s album Resurrexit, as well as in two compilation albums produced by her husband André, To a Rose – More for the Cure and In Heaven’s Eyes.

She loved her rich Trinidadian culture, was a fan of The Mighty Sparrow, and the (then) Catelli Trinidad All Stars steelband. She also loved to dance, taking adult ballroom class instruction from the late Eugene Joseph.

As a Lady Lion, in support of the St Augustine Lions’ all-inclusive fundraising Carnival fetes at the Hilton poolside in the late 1980s, she would be the life of the party, leading her friends and fellow party goers in a flag waving conga line around the hotel pool, to the live music of whatever band was performing. Tune of choice: ‘Tiny Winey’ by Byron Lee and the Dragonnaires.

To her husband of 58 years, her children, grand- and great grandchildren, Grace leaves a powerful legacy of love, generosity, faith and justice, and her lasting influence remains with all who have ever encountered her.

A quick scan of her family’s social media pages provides hundreds of testimonies to her influence, further evidenced by the over 1,000 attendees to her virtual funeral service on May 2.

An excerpt of her son Gerard’s tribute to her reads “But whatever and however my words now might fail to cover you or I might miss, for all you are and continue to do, I hear and feel the words and love expressed by everyone you touched; close family, close friend, stranger that has no chance but to become close, and I am full.”

Her granddaughter Luna-Rose, 21 says of her departure “It is truly a special feeling when you lose someone who you held so tight to your heart and who held you right back. You can feel their energy being lifted into a different world, where all fears, hardships, pain, suffering, any sense of shame, insecurity, and judgement melts away. They become free for the first time since before birth to just be an energy of love with a learned sense of caring, empathy and wisdom.”

The pain and grief of losing her beautiful soul was greatly increased due to closed borders and social isolation from the COVID-19 pandemic which prevented her family members from being with her, leaving her alone to drift into her heavenly home, away from her beloved André.

Her family takes comfort in the strong belief that her mother, Carmen, and her Mother Mary Immaculate, were with her to guide her safely to the arms of her Saviour and Father in Heaven.

May the soul of Grace Catherine Walker rest in eternal peace.