An indomitable spirit within a towering figure and strong presence.
That was how PNM lady vice chairman Camille Robinson-Regis described late former PNM minister Rennie “Stretch” Dumas who died yesterday morning.
Former PNM Tobago East MP Dumas died around 6.45 am at the Eric Williams Medical Sciences (Mt Hope) Complex where he’d had heart surgery four months ago, in January.
Dumas is reported to have developed complications subsequently.
Chairman of PNM’s Tobago Island Council, Stanford Callendar, said Dumas was approximately 60.
“Our PNM family and sister Tobago branch is in mourning and deep shock over the loss of ‘Stretch,’ he’ll be greatly missed,’ Robinson-Regis said.
“Apart from being an MP and minister in various portfolios, he was active in party organs and was always assisted PNM’s Women’s League when needed.”
Robinson-Regis added, “I’d spoken to him when he was at hospital after his surgery and later learned he’d developed complications. But I was shocked to learn he’d passed away.”
“He’d always been active and was a PNM General Council member right down to the end. Our deepest condolences to his family and Tobago’s Island Council.”
Born in Bethesda and schooled in Plymouth and at UWI, Dumas had taught at primary and secondary schools in Tobago. He was involved in the T&T Unified Teachers Association over 1984 to 1990.
Popularly known as “Stretch” due to his height, Dumas’ booming voice was also a hallmark at PNM Tobago gatherings and in Parliament where he served since 2000. With early political roots in the DAC-NAR, Dumas switched to the PNM in 1986 when he contested Tobago West, but lost. He later became PNM’s Tobago East MP in 2007.
However, Dumas had first served in the Patrick Manning PNM administration as a senator when the PNM was in Opposition over 2001- to 2009.
When the PNM later won elections Dumas was appointed a Minister of State in the Office of the Prime Minister from December, 2001 to October, 2002.
Dumas was later appointed Public Utilities and Environment minister from October, 2002 to November, 2003.
From November 2003 to November 2007 he served as Local Government Minister. He was also PNM’s Mayaro Coordinator at one time.
Dumas had been co-ordinator, (Strategic Oversight Unit) with the Tobago House of Assembly under past THA leader Orville London’s tenure.
However, he immediately resigned after he was charged with assault in 2011. He was found guilty in 2013.
Dumas, though, didn’t feel the charges would have affected his bid to become PNM’s Tobago leader when London retired last year. Contesting the leadership, Dumas said he’d served party and country for over 20 years and was “ready to be Chief Servant.”
Though he didn’t win, Dumas obtained the post of Education Officer in the Tobago Council.
Attorney General Faris Al-Rawi, Agriculture Minister Clarence Rambharath and Health Minister Terrence Deyalsingh as well as Opposition colleagues also issued condolences to Dumas’ family.
UNC MP Ganga Singh said, “I’m saddened by Rennie’s untimely death. I have many memories of him as a political colleague in and out of Parliament.”
A release from the Office of the Prime Minister late yesterday also said that Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley had extended condolences to Dumas’ relatives.