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Man who once ate from rubbish heap leaves money, land, Lexus

Sunday, October 31st 2004

Arnim Smith, former Pan Trinbago president and ex-UNC Senator.

FORMER Pan Trinbago President Arnim Smith, who grew up digging in the Port of Spain La Basse for food, has left an estate worth more than $4 million.

Smith died suddenly at age 56 almost exactly one year ago when he suffered a "ruptured aortic dissection", a special category of aneurysm, affecting the main artery of the body carrying blood from the heart.

A former UNC Senator, Smith left to his heirs considerable sums of money as well as four lots of land, two of which are located in Valsayn and St Paul Street, Port of Spain, and are together worth $720,000. The remaining two parcels, located in Tobago, are worth $1,250,000 and $1,750,000 each.

To a daughter, Smith bequeathed money to finance her maintenance and education.

The balance of his estate, including a Lexus motor vehicle and another car, together valued at $175,000, Smith left to another daughter. Smith's funeral service was a stately affair conducted by former head of the Inter-Religious Organisation, Pastor Clive Dottin, featuring tributes from political figures as well as members of the steelband movement. It was held at the Centre of Excellence, Mocoya.

The youngest of three children, Arnim was born to Irene Smith and Rupert Morgan, a baker, at Clifton Street, East Dry River, Port of Spain. He had a rough childhood, scavenging at nights for wood to fuel his father's oven and carrying heavy sacks of flour when the delivery truck came.

Smith was always proud of his humble beginnings. He once told the Express that in his youth he would eat food from the rubbish heap in the Port of Spain city dump where he worked, digging in the earth to recover discarded meat. His "job" back then, was to collect rags-discarded dresses, curtains, sheets and pillow cases-and wash them in a big drain by the Beetham before selling them to a cotton factory in St Joseph.

Smith moved on from those literal rags to abundant riches, and when he died, was a director of Warner Grain Mills, one of Trinidad and Tobago's leading poultry producers.

And despite his background of abject poverty, or perhaps precisely because of it, the street-smart Smith was to rise to some political noteworthiness, joining the Organisation for National Reconstruction (ONR) in 1980 and then the National Alliance for Reconstruction (NAR) five years later, before leaving that party to team up with the United National Congress (UNC) where he was made a senator.

Indeed, in one of his last Senate speeches he was to condemn the ruling People's National Movement (PNM) for associating with "community leaders" whom he considered criminal.

Trinidad and Tobago News

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