Robert David Colvin Boothman

Robert David Colvin Boothman was born on 2 September 1929 at 28 Richmond Street Port of Spain, Trinidad. His family went on to live in Picton Street, Stanmore Avenue and First Avenue Cascade.

His father was Barbados born David Alonso Boothman, who travelled to Trinidad, together with his friend the father of the celebrated Audrey Jeffers. Both young men hoping to study law.

However, while Jeffers went on to become a lawyer Robert’s father lacked the necessary funds and so instead became a well-known Port of Spain tailor. Both families remained close to the end.

Following the death of his father’s first wife, Camay Faltine was his Father’s second wife. Camay, Robert’s mother, was born in Icacos Trinidad where her family resided.

Robert was the fifth of his mother’s six children. The eldest being Oliver followed by Daphne, Clyde, Leslie and Earl. There were two older siblings from their father’s previous marriage who were Clinton and Nicey. Sadly, only two of his siblings, Daphne Montatine and Leslie Boothman, are still with us.

As a child Robert attended the Western Boys Roman Catholic School on Richmond Street Port of Spain. His favorite subjects were English, writing, hygiene and Drawing.

As a schoolboy he got involved with the Catholic Youth Organization where he sang and went on to run art classes.

Robert left school aged 15 and went to work at the Trinidad Guardian on St Vincent Street in 1944 starting as an office assistant then apprentice working his way up to supervisor.

Robert eventually became frustrated about progression at the Guardian and decided his future was in commercial art. Around the time he was thinking about going to England he got involved with Geoffrey Holder’s dance group. Geoffrey was one of the brothers of Majorie. She was Robert’s elder brother Oliver’s wife. Geoffrey’s mother suggested that if he went to London, he should hook up with her other son Broscoe who had travelled to London in 1950.

So early in 1955 Robert and a close friend Vivian Jack decided to leave for England. It came as a great surprise when one of the White senior managers at the Guardian, Alex Gillespie gave them letters of introduction to the Print Workers Union in London which subsequently enabled them to secure union membership and then work in the print industry.

Robert left Trinidad and travelled to London in the middle of 1955 along with Vivian Jack, Eleanor Clarke and a group of others on the SS Antilles. At that time, he only really knew of Eleanor Juliana Hyacinth Clarke (known as Nora or Julie) later his wife through his brother Leslie. It was only when they left Trinidad that they became close friends. The rest is history, and they were subsequently married 9 February 1957.

In London Robert first lived in a shared house in Cromwell Avenue Highgate. His close circle of friends at that time were people like Boscoe Holder, Corrine Skinner, Trevor Carter, Clive Olliverre, Clyde & Jean Carter, Vernon Neptune, Shirley Dewan, Hugh Titus, Ronnie & Orina Rose as well as another relative of Trevor and Clyde Carter the well know communist activist Claudia Jones.

In London Robert subsequently attended the London College of Printing & Graphic Arts at the Elephant & Castle, St Martins School of Art, Charing Cross and the Camberwell College of Graphics. He was also involved with the Society of Lithographic Arts Design & Engraving (SLADE).

With the assistance of Sir Learie Constantine the Trinidad & Tobago High Commissioner Robert later secured at job at the Daily Mirror in London to train and return to the Caribbean in 1963 as a Graphics Manager to lead a team responsible for producing a new colour version of the Daily Mirror in Trinidad. After working in Trinidad on this project he later returned to England to work with the Daily Sketch, the Daily Mail & the Evening Standard.

In the early 70’s Robert left England again after hearing one could work for multiple employers in New York and getting an invitation to stay with his brother Leslie’s family. There was fortunate enough to secure a job with the internationally renowned advertising, marketing and public relations agency Ogilvy & Mather as an Art Director on 5th Avenue Manhattan. He was particularly proud of the relationship he developed with clients Tiffany’s the American luxury jewelry and specialty design house also headquartered on Fifth Avenue in Manhattan.

They specifically requested that he continue working on their contract because of the quality of the images he produced of their diamonds.

Robert and his wife later moved from New York to Orlando in 1988 and they have had a home here ever since. He continued his art here and also worked as a mural artist at the Orlando Convention Center.

Robert is survived by too many to mention by name including his wife Eleanor, children – Christopher, Colin, Kimouy, Kay, Mark and Tracy, Grand Children – Cory, Ricky, Jody, Aicha, Djamila, Lisha, Shanelle, Dillon, Omar, Lia, Malachi, Matthew, Kameko, Maya, Kai and Marcel as well as 16 Great Grand Children.

Although Robert had three nationalities over his lifetime, British, Trinbagonian and US he was really a Trini to the bone. He was a supporter of the Invaders Steel Orchestra based on Tragarete Road, Port of Spain. He played sailor mas in the second carnival after World War 2 in 1947. He followed cricket especially the Windies Cricket team. But he also loved boxing and hero-worshipped Muhammad Ali aka Cassius Clay. As a young man in New York, he took on the look of Richard Rowntree’s John Shaft with the trademark haircut, mustache and long leather coat. He also loved cameras and photography and of course more than anything he was a prolific artist.

Throughout Robert was a hard worker, an optimist, a dreamer, a storyteller, a diplomat and in his final years he was a fighter.

Robert’ greatest was passion was his artwork. His oil and pastel paintings. Robert was a special man.

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