Prof David Picou remembered as ‘Trini to de bone’

The content originally appeared on: Trinidad and Tobago Newsday

FAREWELL: Pall-bearers guide the casket bearing the body of Prof Emeritus Dr David Picou during Picou’s funeral at the St Mary’s RC Church, on George Cabral Street, St James on Thursday. – Faith Ayoung

Prof Emeritus Dr David Picou was remembered at his funeral on Thursday as a well-respected, carnival-loving researcher and father.

Friends, relatives and colleagues gathered at the St Mary’s RC church to honour Picou, 97, who died on May 4 after being hospitalised for a week leading up to his death.

He died at the Eric Williams Medical Sciences Complex (EWMSC), which he oversaw as project manager and chairman of the Mount Hope Medical Complex Task Force between 1978 and 1987.

Prof Emeritus Errol Waldron delivered the eulogy and recalled Picou’s career as a respected researcher and former university lecturer.

Waldron also described him as a devoted husband and proud father and grandfather who lived an accomplished life before “closing his innings just three runs short of a century.

“He played many strokes in his long innings, from son and brother to student and teacher at the country’s most prestigious school and at university in the United States and Mona, Jamaica when he entered with the second class of medical students in 1949.”

He said Picou’s status as a well-known and respected Caribbean-based medical researcher began in the late sixties with his work as scientific secretary for the Standing Advisory Committee for Medical Research in the Commonwealth Caribbean (SAC).

The SAC morphed into the Commonwealth Caribbean Medical Research Council (CCMRC) before eventually being restyled to the Caribbean Public Health Agency (CARPHA) as it is known today.

In this portfolio, Picou identified and encouraged new medical researchers around the region to present work at an annual medical research conference.

Waldron said Picou simultaneously served as co-director of the Tropical Metabolism Research Unit (TRMU) at the University of the West Indies (UWI) where he undertook “ground-breaking clinical and laboratory research” while spreading the culture of research to all fields of medicine.

The research led to Picou’s development of guidelines for treating infant malnutrition, which were later adopted by the World Health Organization and are still being used 50 years later in treating malnutrition in vulnerable populations during crises around the world.

Reflecting on Picou’s commitment to research and medical progress, Waldron said Picou’s car trunk doubled as his first office in his role as executive chair of the task force committee which developed the EWMSC.

He said Picou was also an ambassador as he took every opportunity to introduce regional colleagues to TT carnival.

“He would gather the assistant secretaries of the CCMRC at the beginning of the year to assess and sort out the many presentations that would be made at the conference later that year.

“These gatherings also served to introduce the members of the secretariat to Trinidad’s pre-Carnival scene, and it was just as well that Sparrow’s hideaway was only a stone’s throw away…from where we worked.”

Waldron said Picou, who played mas well into his 80s, had the headdress from the iconic River God band costume hanging in his living room.

Picou’s children Michelle, Mark and Lilly said he would be missed as they spoke fondly of his fatherly exploits and his ability as a chef.

They noted the outpouring of love received from people all over the world from various walks of life and described him as “a true visionary, inventor and a giant” who lived a great life and was “truly Trini to de bone.”