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Ulric Cross dies at 96
War hero and former Appeal Court judge Ulric Cross died yesterday, aged 96. Cross died in his sleep around 2 pm, at home in Port-of-Spain, the day after he returned from the hospital. “I don’t think we will get anyone like him again….Anyone with the breed like Ulric Cross. There is no more Ulric Cross to come,” said former Chief Justice Satnarine Sharma in a telephone interview yesterday.
Upon hearing of his death, Sharma said it was a colossal loss, and Cross—who received the country’s highest honour, the Order of the Republic of T&T, in 2011—was a true hero. Cross was one of the most decorated West Indian squadron leaders of World War II. “What a loss to the region and the world. He was truly a great human being. He made history in almost everything he touched.”
Former Chief Justice and past president of the Caribbean Court of Justice Michael de la Bastide said although death comes to everyone and even though one expected death to come at Cross’s age, it was still a shock and a sad experience when “someone we know, admired and loved dies.” In a telephone interview, De la Bastide said Cross had a very full life and made contributions at different levels and capacities and his achievements would continue to be chronicled.
“He was an extremely well-rounded person who had some very valuable gifts which he used for the benefit of others. He was a true hero of our nation and will always be remembered as one,” he said. Attorney General Anand Ramlogan issued a statement which said Cross, “served the people of T&T with distinction in his many endeavours on the national and international arena.”
Ramlogan said after Cross returned from serving in the Royal Air Force during World War II, “While other men would have rested on their laurels, Justice Cross explored other areas where his unique talents would best benefit the people of T&T.” Ramlogan said after his legal career, when others would have quietly retired, Cross started the NGO Cotton Tree Foundation in April 1993.
“He is on record as stating that his mission in life was to work towards the combat of high levels of poverty and unemployment through counselling, self-help, education and training projects. On his 90th birthday in 2007, the Ulric Cross Cotton Tree Endowment Fund was launched, to expand the work of the Cotton Tree Foundation to include a legal aid clinic, community sports programme and an art and music programme.
“Cross will be remembered for his brilliant legal mind, but most of all for his service to humanity at the time when T&T and the world needed citizens like Justice Cross to step forward for democracy and liberty,” the statement said. T&T filmmaker Frances-Anne Solomon has been working on a documentary film of Cross’s life, Hero, along with Cross’s younger daughter Nicola. It is scheduled to be released next year.
His older daughter, arts administrator Sue Woodford-Hollick (Lady Hollick) lives in the UK. His son, Richard Finch, is an educator.
LIFE OF A LEGEND
Philip Louis Ulric Cross, born on May 1, 1917, attended St Mary’s College. In 1941, he volunteered to serve in the Royal Air Force during World War II. As a navigator at Bomber Command, he rose to the rank of squadron leader and made 80 operational flights over France and Germany.
After completing his legal training in 1949, he worked as a state counsel in Ghana, attorney general in West Cameroon, and a High Court judge in Tanzania. He was a professor of law and dean of the faculty of law at the University of Dar-es Salaam, Tanzania and a member of the examiners board in the Faculty of Law at Haile Selassie University. When he returned to T&T in 1974, he served as a judge in the High Court judge and the Court of Appeal. He was later chairman of the Law Reform Commission.
He also served as high commissioner to the UK.