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November 7, 2014
Family, friends dealt heavy blow by sudden loss of Maloney

An entire Marriaqua community is reaching out in comfort to the immediate and extended family of Eustace Maloney, following his unexpected and shocking passing last weekend.

The 56-year-old educator, musician, farmer, husband, father, mentor, community activist and friend, died on the night of Friday, {{more}}October 31, at the Milton Cato Memorial Hospital, after a brief illness.

His wife, Shirlyn Maloney, told SEARCHLIGHT that Eustace, affectionately known to all as “Slums,” died as a result of a blood clot in his left lung.

He had been originally hospitalized because of a ruptured appendix.

The grieving widow, accompanied and consoled by their daughter Rashida, (he also has a daughter Roxanne Joseph, from a previous relationship) told SEARCHLIGHT that the support and encouragement from persons in and outside of the community has been overwhelming, and the family is grateful.

The duo recounted receiving phone calls from nurses at the hospital, saying that things were not well with Slums, shortly after Shirlyn had left him resting moments before.

“I had not too long left the hospital when I got the call that he was not breathing,” his widow said.

“I was actually driving coming home, when I got a call from mommy stating that daddy isn’t breathing and they were trying to resuscitate him… then she called back stating that she is weak and she can’t make it to drive, so come for her,” Rashida added.

“On our way to the hospital, the nurse called back and asked who is driving and I told her it was neither my mom nor I driving and they said that they were still trying, but when we got there the nurse said that he passed away…. I estimate it at approximately 8:15 p.m.”

His family says that like everyone else, Slums’ death came as a heavy blow, since he was not known to be in poor health. His wife said that the last time Slums was sick was when he suffered a broken leg in the early 80s.

Slums’ wife said that her husband started his teaching career in Union Island when he was about 18 years. He then worked at Evesham, Cane End and then at Richland Park, where he had been working for the last 22 years.

About seven years ago, Slums, a trumpet and saxophone player, decided to start a band at the school.

“He learned to play instruments while attending the Marriaqua Secondary School (now the St Joseph’s Convent Marriaqua), and he always felt strongly that this is a skill that he would like to share with young boys; so he took the initiative.

“He bought some instruments, he requested some, he got some as contributions, and he said that he wanted to make Richland Park the “Mecca of Music,” and he said ‘the boys when I train them they must be better than me’,” Shirlyn said.

“He had that kind of idea; and he wanted to keep them away from the streets and get them involved in something positive,” his daughter added.

Recently, Slums picked up another hobby: writing.

“He described himself as a prolific writer, and would spend a lot of time on the computer writing his short stories and posting them on Facebook,” Rashida noted.

“I think he always had that imaginative talent to just sit down and write a story.

Whenever he wrote, he didn’t scrap and write, he would just sit down and make one copy and he would write straight from his head and he would draw you into making you think that this story was real. He would just ask me to proof-read and then share it with the rest of the world,” his wife joked.

His family described Slums as a family man, who made every effort to provide for them.

“Every family would have their misunderstanding, but in quick time he would mend situations; he doesn’t hold malice; he was a very loving and kind person. Nothing was too good to give to us; he fulfilled our needs to the best of his ability.

“He was always someone you can count on. He was approachable and always shared his views and opinions; he had a good listening skill, never too quick to judge and always saw the good in people and situations. He always encouraged others to give of their best and to go the extra mile.

“He always had a positive view regardless to the situation.

“When he started that band it was because he wanted to get the community involved.”

At the Richland Park Government School, these sentiments were echoed by Carol Miller, Slum’s headteacher and friend for the past 20 years.

Miller said that the entire school and community was rocked to its core with Slums’ passing.

She described Slums as a practical person who helped in any way he could, and always used every opportunity to educate.

“He was very helpful…. He never held malice even though he may tell you certain things, but I guess he was one person who believed that you must not let the sun go down on your wrath.

“Some years ago he started the band because he said that it doesn’t make sense you have a skill and you keep it to yourself. He believed in sharing what he knew and he used to say one of these days he expected Richland Park to be the “Mecca” when it comes to finding people to play brass, so he started the band.”

Slums and his band were a staple at every cultural event and funeral in and out of the community.

The group was invited, or volunteered to play at events, something that they did practically everyday, according to Miller.

The band was scheduled to play at the school’s independence rally, but because Slums had fallen ill the day before, was unable to do so.

Miller said that the visit to the school by counsellors from the Ministry of Education helped the faculty and students to cope with the loss of their fondest teacher.

“They took the band by itself, staff by itself and they went to every class and they had sessions with them and I guess it lifted the spirits of teachers and staff alike; we can talk about him now maybe with out shedding a tear.”

Some of the band members told SEARCHLIGHT that they were saddened by Slums’ death, but intend to keep his legacy alive by continuing with the band and following the life lessons he shared with them.

Slums’ wife related to SEARCHLIGHT that her husband got his nickname when he was a teenager.

“When he was attending the Marriaqua Secondary School, he entered a calypso competition, and he sang a song about shanty town area in Richland Park called Slums, so after singing the song, a fella named Gillis “Gitt” Francis said ‘as from today, you are the Slums,’ and it stuck with him for the rest of his life.”

The St Vincent and the Grenadines Calypsonian Association paid tribute to Slums, saying, “He offered his expertise of judging in school competitions, within various communities and at Carnival, our national festival. Being a lover of calypso didn’t limit him to follow the soca artistes and whenever he was in conversations with fellow judges, he always made a positive impact and gave encouraging words….

“He will be greatly missed as the calypso fraternity expresses their sympathy to his family,” the release said.

Also paying tribute was the Carnival Development Corporation (see page 30).

Slums’ funeral service is slated to take place on Sunday, November 16, at the Richland Park Seventh Day Adventist Church. He will be buried in Richland Park.