Vincentian educator and musician Eustace “Slums” Maloney died Friday night, after a brief illness.
“My dad Eustace Slums Maloney has passed away after a brief illness. I am speechless and I’m broken. I feel like a ton of bricks have slammed me to the ground. I love my dad and I will miss him dearly. May he rest in eternal peace,” a post on Maloney’s Facebook page said.
Another post by a woman who referred to Maloney as her brother, showed a picture of him and his wife at Milton Cato Memorial Hospital several hours before his death.
Maloney, who is standing and embracing his wife, is attached to an IV fluid dispenser and a patch of gauze can be seen on his abdomen under the white singlet that he is wearing.
Tribute have begun to flow in on Facebook to the man who shaped many lives as a school teacher, and entertained and comforted many — especially in his home community, Marriaqua — with his music and short stories.
In a Facebook post in March, Maloney celebrated his band, Richland Park Melody Makers, a group of mainly pre-teen and teenage boys who he had taught music, being awarded the Best Instrumental Band in the Primary School’s Performing Arts Festival for the third straight year.
“This is sweet victory for me. I have spent the last few weeks working extremely hard on two pieces for this special occasion,” he said then.
In a video posted on YouTube after Maloney’s death, Clairon Haynes spoke of how Maloney, who taught her at Evesham Methodist School, had helped her through a difficult period earlier this year.
“I remember when I was just crawling out of my depression in May, I came on Facebook and I started putting up all these pictures with my illness and all of that, and he could message me and say to me, ‘Clairon, don’t worry about what you have gone through and what you will go through, God will take care of you, and he used to cheer me up,” she said of Maloney, who taught her at Evesham Methodist School.
In the video tribute, Haynes said that Maloney was also active in the “Slums Maloney ‘Vincy Short Stories’” group on Facebook.
“He was [one of the few] men that I know from our community that would engage in writing. And when I read his work, he was such a prolific short story writer,” she said.
Gospel artiste Fenton Harry expressed disbelief, adding, “I remember my days at Evesham Primary School. The songs written by you for me to sing. However, I am happy I got to express appreciation for pushing me in singing while at primary school. May your soul rest in peace. You have impacted and touch lives within St. Vincent and the Grenadines,” Harry said.
Maloney, who played wind instruments, was also a man who used his music to comfort the grieving.
“I have known Slums for most of my life. More recently on the passing of my mom, without my asking, he was there at the funeral service with his instrument soothing my mourning heart with his music. I cannot believe he is gone. Rest in peace my brother,” said Edmond Anthony Jackson, Budget Director at Ministry of Finance and Economic Planning, in a post also on Facebook.
“Slums Maloney was a friend to everyone and a blessing to his community. I shall miss his short stories … What a talented man. May his soul RIP,” Yvette Thomas wrote.
“A tremendous loss to our community and the country on a whole! After a lifetime of love and joy, and music to fill our ears, God leaves these precious memories to help us through our tears. May he rest in peace,” said the user of the Facebook account “Rlp ActiveLifestyle”.
Vin Jobe wrote about how Maloney, a stranger then, had come to his assistance when he had a medical problem almost 20 years ago.
“In 1996 I had a kidney problem and as soon as Mr. Maloney heard about my problem he immediately organized a island wide campaign to raise funds for me to go over seas to take my surgery. I am well and alive today all because of him, I met him about two weeks ago and was thanking him again for his kindness even tho he didn’t know me back then but he see the need to help and he did, Thank you Slums, Rest in peace,” Jobe wrote.
And fellow Marriaqua resident, Phillip Jackson, said that with Maloney’s death, “A great warrior has fallen, a pillar has crumbled.”
He described Maloney as “our brother, mentor, friend and wise one.
“You have given so much, and asked for nothing in return. You cheered us when we were sad and mourning; multiplied our joys; you pressed us to think about the deeper and more meaningful things in our lives. Your well sought after stories, probed and tickled our imagination, they made us laugh, cry, gasp, wonder, reflect, hope, dream and purpose to be our better selves for more than ourselves. Slums, O brother my brother, your interrupted life was worth a thousand lives. A part of you still lives in us and challenges us. The good seeds you have sown would grow in us and multiply in us and bear fruit. Yours was a life worth living; you were a person worth knowing; yours is a legacy worth keeping alive. Even while we mourn, we are grateful for the gift of you – a gift that would keep on giving in death as in life…” Jackson said on Facebook.