Ptolemy Reid passes on
By Ruel Johnson
September 4, 2003
Dr. Ptolemy Alexander Reid, O.E., passed away at around 10 o'clock on Tuesday night at his home in Atlantic Gardens, East Coast Demerara. He was a former Prime Minister of Guyana and former Deputy Leader of the People's National Congress (PNC), now the PNC/Reform.
Dr. Reid was born in Dartmouth Village on the Essequibo Coast on the 8th of May, 1918 to Herman and Marion Reid. He attended the village primary school where he eventually became a pupil teacher before entering the Teacher's Training College (TTC) now the Cyril Potter College of Education (CPCE). He graduated from TTC in 1941 after which he went back to serve as a teacher at his village school. He left Guyana in 1949 to pursue a Degree in Veterinary Medicine at the famous Tuskegee Institute, now Tuskegee University, in Alabama, USA. Dr. Reid was the first South American student to graduate from the Institute.
Dr. Reid returned to Guyana in 1955 where he married Ruth Chalmers. Shortly after, unable to find employment locally, he migrated to Canada where he practiced as a veterinarian in the province of Saskatchewan.
From Canada, he went on to further his studies at the University of London, where he quickly was awarded the degree necessary for placement as a Member of the Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons.
In 1958, he went to work at Bookers Sugar Estate as the Chief Veterinary Officer after which he was promoted to the board of directors of the company.
In 1960 he joined the People's National Congress and offered himself as a candidate for the party in the Pomeroon Constituency in the 1961 General Elections, and lost. Three years later he was appointed Deputy Prime Minister in the PNC/UF Coalition Government. During his sixteen years as Deputy Prime Minister, Dr. Reid also held the portfolios of Minister of Home Affairs, Minister of Finance and Minister of Agriculture. In 1980 he was appointed Prime Minister under the Executive Presidency of L.F.S. Burnham. Dr. Reid retired his post in 1984. He spent his retirement farming on the East Bank of Demerara.
In 1997, Ruth Reid died, after which he married the person he described as his childhood sweetheart, Ms. Marjorie Griffith, who passed away in May this year.
During a long and illustrious career, Dr. Reid was the recipient of several distinguished awards including the Order of Excellence, Order of Gran Cruz (Colombia), and the Distinguished Alumni Award from the Tuskegee University.
His son, Dr. Herman Reid, has said that the family is glad that the late former Prime Minister died peacefully in his sleep. He says that the family is not really in a state of shock since Dr. Reid (Snr.) had been ailing for some time. He remembers his father as a hardworking, dedicated and disciplined man who always tried to give everyone a fair chance.
According to the Regional Executive Officer of Region 2, Mr. Nandkissore Persaud, Dr. Reid was a distinguished statesman who contributed significantly to the development of Guyana. He recalls Dr. Reid as encouraging residents of his home county to go into farming.
The PNC/Reform will host a traditional wake at the party headquarters, Congress place on Friday. In a release, the PNC-R stated that "Ptolo" remained a father figure within the party until the time of his death.
A viewing of the body of Dr. Reid will be held at St. George's Cathedral from 9 am on Saturday, after which there will be the funeral service beginning at 11. At 12.30 a funeral procession leaves with the late Dr. Reid for the Essequibo Coast.
The remains of the late Dr. Ptolemy Alexander Reid will be cremated at dawn on Sunday morning at La Union.