Tribute to Past Secretary Lauren Lumpkin-Thomas
Dear Members and Friends:
It seems like I am writing so many statements of condolences lately…but this one tears at my heart and soul. Lauren Lumpkin-Thomas was such a joy to know, that I really hoped I would never have to do this. For those who have never served on the Executive for CAP, I can assure you that it is not a cliché when we say that, “we are a family”. When you spend the years that most of us have spent working together, much of it being with the same core of people, and you travel and live together, you eat every meal together on trips, and email each other multiple times a week, there is a tight-knit bond that develops. Fellow officers become friends, mentors, surrogate parents, and after a time, the relationship moves from “like family” to “actual family.”
This is how Lauren became my “Auntie Lauren”, not just in CAP but also in my life. She had a smooth, pleasant way in which she related with everyone, and it never changed, whether she was commending you for a job well-done, or telling you how you just made a huge mistake. Nobody I have ever met could exude such a level of grace and dignity that Lauren did. She was always the peace-maker when our deliberations got too heated, mostly because we all respected her too much to ever interrupt her, and she would just speak in that graceful, soothing tone until we calmed down. Ironically, she spent most of her time probably trying to calm me down, and now I spend my time doing it when other Executives get a little too heated.
Lauren was a consummate teacher; not just an educator, but also a true teacher. Her work and her life showed that she lived her beliefs about professionalism, high standards of practice and education, and the love for pharmacy. It also reflected her abiding love for The Almighty, and her desire to fulfill His will for her life. She made everyone around her better, not just at what they did, but more importantly, at who they were to become. At her core, every conversation, every action, and every interaction was just one more chance to teach universal truth to anyone who would listen. I remember one such time in 2013, when the Executives met in Trinidad to reconfigure the financial structure of the Association. Everyone else stayed at Executive Director Pam’s home, but I stayed at a hotel. Lauren picked me up just about every day, and those car rides provided me with so much wisdom, that I looked forward to it. She told me that I could do a great job as President…and then sweetly listed off all the things I had to change. I tried to laugh it off by saying, “If I changed all of that, I wouldn’t be me.” She looked over at me and smiled, then said, “Exactly.” I got the message loud and clear, and started to make those changes she had suggested. Two years later in Guyana, when I was asked to consider running for the office, she sat me down again and told me that I was ready.
Lauren told us that she was not doing well, but she never told us how bad it was. Looking back now, that is “classic Lauren”, never wanting the spotlight, always trying to keep people focused on what lay ahead of them rather than on herself. She always bragged about “her students” but never boasted about her teaching ability. She was an amazing officer for CAP, serving in many posts, but most notably, being one of the best Secretaries we have ever had, and setting the standard for all Continuing Education Chairpersons to follow. Her diligence, strong work ethic, commitment to high professional standards, and her love for this Association was cemented in our history when she was awarded “Afzal Abdool Service Award” in 2015, a nomination I happily made as Legislative Chair of CAP.
Lauren was the best of who we are…and it is with great sadness and genuine pain that we say goodbye to her. However, we are encouraged in the knowledge that she lived this life in preparation and hope for that life to come. There is no doubt that she was a child of God, and a faithful servant of her King. Now, sickness, pain and death have no more hold over her. We give thanks for our time with her in this life, and look forward to seeing her again. On behalf of the Executives and Member of the Caribbean Association of Pharmacists, we extend our deepest condolences to her family, her loved ones, the members of the Pharmaceutical Society of Trinidad & Tobago, the College of Pharmacy at the University of the West Indies (Trinidad), and all who knew and loved her. We are confident that her soul now rests in peace, and we pray that the God of Peace will grant comfort and assurance to our hearts as we grieve.
Marvin R. Smith, PharmD.
Caribbean Association of Pharmacists