The word LEGENDARY reverberated in my head as I absorbed the news of Dr. Michael Baboolal of San Juan, Trinidad. An accomplished, humble man and great leader.
Physician, husband, and father are his everyday titles, but his most notable may be auto-racer. His unique skills set postured him unparalleled, and he channeled his influence in developing the tourism industry through car-racing and related sports. His was, and will always be, a revered name at Wallerfield.
I first met Doc, as he is fondly called, when their family attended my brother’s wedding back in the 1990s. (Therefore this tribute is on my brother’s behalf too—Priest as he is nicknamed through his affiliation with the Lord— and an implant in Doc’s life and home.) Doc brand is Zig’s, and he was an avid racer in his younger days. Later, Priest raced for him.
I was unable to obtain a photo with Priest and Doc at short notice, but on his Facebook page I came across a post with Doc’s prayer in the comments “Lord, let me win.” as Priest set off behind the wheel. And, praise God, they won. Prayer was a well-known fact in their lives, and even the most skeptical of men bowed their heads in reverence before a race. What a testimony, this public announcement of the source of their success.
In 2018, I flew to Trinidad to renew my passport which had expired a decade ago. Armed with Canadian references, I was taken off-guard upon the realization that I needed referees who resided in Trinidad. Doc’s medical office painted in calm sage green was in view from Priest’s house, so we trotted down the few metres to meet the gentle, kind-hearted doctor. Having grown accustomed to the medical offices in Canada, I was pleasantly surprised to be ushered into the reception room furnished in polished high-end chairs and other décor such as one would find in a living room. The Baboolal’s standards always raised the bar. Willingly, Doc signed my form and endorsed my photos.
Knowing Doc’s and his wife Linda’s rich, untold history – the late Dr. Linda Baboolal was also a physician, the Barataria/San Juan MP and Senate President, and more —Priest had an appendage as we were leaving. “Susie is a writer. She could write yours and Bowjee’s life story.”
Doc looked at me with renewed interest, his gaze thoughtful as Priest continued his advertising of me. He acknowledged that they had talked about putting their legacy in a book, and that he would speak to Linda about it. “But hurry up, Doc, because she is a busy lady.” Priest added with a grin.
Unfortunately, it was not my busy schedule that prevented Dr. Linda Baboolal the chance to get her life story told in her own words. For in September 2019, at age 78, she went to be with the Lord. You can read the tribute I wrote for her at this link Linda Baboolal.
My trip planned to Trinidad in 2020 was thwarted by the pandemic, and there was no follow-up on the Baboolal’s prospective memoir. And regretfully, this past weekend, I read my sister-in-law’s message of Doc’s passing on June 13, 2022. He was 83 years old.
This piece, though short, is but a deep one of the distinguished, visionary Dr. Michael Baboolal. I texted my condolences to my brother who I know is taking this very hard.
His single-word reply summarized it: Heartbreaking!
The heartbreak of losing a mentor who shared the wisdom of the years ongoing with a young man. As Linda was a mother to him, Michael was a father.
Heartbreak of the car-racing guru who recognized the daredevil in the fearless, talented Priest and introduced him to the tracks. The numerous trophies they garnered together tell tales I can only imagine, never having set foot in Wallerfield myself.
The heartbreak of Doc who was also landlord of the duplex Priest and his family rented (and where one of Doc’s children lived in the other apartment.) I once stayed there while visiting.
The heartbreak for the employer where he spent satisfying years in grease and everything mechanical, in Zig’s Auto Machine Shop, and where the innovative Priest built his own racing cars.
Heartbreak for the strata he was inducted into with Doc and Bowjee and their political, medical, and auto-racing world where he carved a niche for himself.
Heartbreaking! Decades in one word.
Heartbreaking! Never to touch down in Trinidad and lay eyes on the dear face of Doc, both their visages bronzed by the relentless tropical sun of Wallerfield. Never to defy the unexpected torrents of an afternoon storm when the race must go on.
Heartbreaking! Never again to ride the circuit track and raise the chequered flag.
How do you salute a life so well-lived? How does the schedule go on when world-changers are no more?
The headline of the TT Guardian hails: “Dr Michael Baboolal widower of former Barataria/San Juan MP and Senate President Dr. Linda Baboolal died in Canada on Friday night.”
Doc had been visiting his second daughter Carolyn in Ontario.
Drs. Michael and Linda were a power couple. The “It” couple as we say in Canada. He shone in the medical and auto racing fields, and she in the political one becoming the first woman to hold the position of President of the Senate, among other governing titles.
And now they have both been elevated to the Kingdom of Heaven. The highest positions they can ever hold. If there were need of political, medical and car-racing leadership there I’m pretty sure they’d be designated those responsibilities. Michael and Linda have found each other again, and they roam the gardens of the golden city, with their son Anand, waiting for the others to join them as time moves on.
Meanwhile, here, their genetics carry on through their three daughters Maggie, Carolyn, and Sherry, and son Rajen. Their brilliance and influence can be maintained. Their marks and memories will remain alive through the posterity of their 11 grandchildren and one great-granddaughter. I pray that each would so live as to be reunited in the glorious ever after.
Their friends and loved ones will continually tout their names, sing their praises, and emulate them.
May the grace of God sustain all whose lives have been affected by the unmatched Michael and Linda Baboolal. May you be comforted, inspired, and reminded that you can make a difference because you have been in the company of world-changers, the incomparable Doctors Baboolal.