Murdered lifeguard remembered as man of peace

The content originally appeared on: Trinidad and Tobago Newsday

Gideon Hollis Valdez –

MOURNERS at the Belgrove’s Chapel, Orange Grove Road,Trincity, who came to pay their final respects to murdered lifeguard Gideon Hollis Valdez were encouraged that they will meet him again one day.

The media were not allowed to attend the funeral, which was carried live on YouTube for those unable to attend in person.

Valdez, 41, and his wife Shereen Bailey-Valdez were murdered at their home at Rincon Road, Las Cuevas on July 29. The couple was found on the floor of their bedroom at about 7.45 am. They had been shot a total of seven times, Valdez shot four times and his wife three times.

Bailey-Valdez will be cremated on Friday at the Port of Spain Crematorium.

At the chapel, Keith Cudjoe prayed that Jehovah comforts the family and that those gathered along with relatives support the couple’s teenage daughter, who he said received a “double blow.”

In his sermon, a member of the La Fillette Kingdom Hall of Jehovah’s Witnesses, who was identified as Brother Gooding, told those listening that the righteous will reign on the earth one day. He encouraged them to take comfort in that and the fact that those who are resurrected will return to a world free of pain, suffering and death and will live forever.

While this is only for the righteous, he said one can qualify by doing the right thing, as there are those, unlike Valdez, who chose the wrong path when they know right from wrong.

“If we keep these things in our hearts, it will be as if Gideon went abroad on a short vacation. A funeral reminds of the uncertainty of life. He was only 41. No one knows what will happen.”

Among those gathered were some of Valdez’s colleagues who wore their yellow t-shirts in solidarity with his family and each other. Valdez’s own T-shirt was put next to a picture of him wearing it with his lifeguard whistle. During the viewing of the body, someone blew a lifeguard whistle, but it was unclear if it was his, as the camera was focused on the slideshow of Valdez with family.

Gooding said he met Valdez in 2001 and some years later, Valdez’s daughter was baptised into the faith. Valdez’s death was a tragedy that “really hurts,” but he remembers the type of person Valdez was, and urged those who knew him to reflect on that.

“He was determined, peaceful, respectful, loving, supportive and, as someone told me earlier today, he was just the best. Some people see these qualities as a weakness, but to him it was a strength.”

Gooding said Valdez exemplified those qualities in his everyday life, as he chose peace even when it hurt him.

“It takes strength to remain calm under provocation.”

He reminded the crowd that Valdez had a laugh that was bigger than life. He planned to make his relationship with Jehovah stronger and had a goal for his family to be united in worship with Jehovah.

Those watching the live stream expressed their condolences to the family and prayed for them to be comforted. Among them was Anthony Frederick, who recalled Valdez always having a bright smile on his face. “I can see it now” he said.

Marcia Garcia said “God give our family grace, it is so hard, so sorry.”

Lerone Celestine typed “Oh boy, oh boy. My brother saying you will be missed is just words of expression, but man, our hearts will forever long for your company.”

The decomposing body of Franklin Abel Clement, the man suspected of killing the couple, was found in the Rincon forest three days later. He is expected to be cremated next week.