Lieutenant Commander Gaylord Kelshall, historian of the Chaguaramas Military and Aviation Museum, died on Sunday night at the Port of Spain General Hospital at about 7 pm. He was 77.
Vice president of the museum Brian Mitchell said yesterday the retired Coast Guard pilot and special forces commander was in and out of private and public hospitals for the last three weeks, being treated for bronchial pneumonia.
Kelshall’s wife Linda told Newsday: “He was a smoker. (He) never stopped smoking. His lungs became filled with fluid and the doctors couldn’t do anything to clear it.”
A function was held on Sunday night at the museum to unveil a castle, a dream of the Kelshalls.
Linda said: “One of his dreams was to raise the drawbridge and that was done but he didn’t see it. I think he came in spirit, saw it and died. It was a dream fulfilled.”
Kelshall also battled diabetes and prostate cancer. Mitchell said he had an operation for the latter years ago and fought it down to the end.
The museum, founded by the decorated commander and Linda, houses artefacts from the military eras of TT from the Spanish 16th and 17th century to the present.
In September 2013, the Chaguaramas Development Authority (CDA) served an eviction notice on the museum even though the owners possessed a Cabinet note issued on October 17, 1991 granting them a 30-year lease.
The CDA was claiming at the time that it wanted the site to expand its boardwalk and proposed a new site in Grandwood on the edge of a military rifle range. However the museum’s owners rejected the offer citing that it will cost some $25 million to make that move.
The CDA also proposed a new 30-year lease on the condition that the museum was moved but the Kelshalls considered it blackmail.
Kelshall had also written books on the war as it affected the area of the southern Caribbean around TT.
The History of Aviation in Trinidad & Tobago, 1913-1962, was released in 1987. Seven years later, in August 1994, Kelshall released The U-Boat War in the Caribbean – an account of submarine warfare in the Caribbean during World War II.
Also left to mourn are his children Guen, Robert, Anthony and Brent Kelshall, step-children Anim, Roland, Angelo and Allan Ali, and seven grandchildren.
Mitchell said: “One of his requests is that he wanted a full military funeral and to be laid to rest at the Military Cemetery at Long Circular Road. He also wanted to be churched at the museum with the Regiment band in attendance.”
A letter to the effect was sent to Chief of Defence Staff, Commodore Hayden Pritchard.