Three days after he was invited to be an honorary pall-bearer at the funeral of former prime minister and president Arthur NR Robinson, former chief of Defence Staff Roland Maunday has died of a heart attack. Brig Gen Maunday, 57, who retired two years ago, celebrated his birthday on March 29. He died on the way to hospital yesterday morning. The decorated father of one was yesterday described as an excellent soldier who dedicated his life to the military, his family and mentoring young people.
Speaking with the T&T Guardian about her husband’s last moments yesterday, Maunday’s widow Wendy said she was still trying to come to terms with his sudden passing. His daughter, Gabrielle, revealed her father suffered a massive heart attack just before 5 am as he was being taken to the Arima Health Facility.
Maunday, who lived at Hyland Court, Arima, was said to have been complaining of “shortness of breath on-and-off in the last month.” Gabrielle said her father had visited the doctor but numerous tests did not reveal any abnormalities. She said when Maunday returned from Tobago on Sunday, he again complained and visited the doctor on Monday. With more tests scheduled for this week, Gabrielle said: “His vitals were good. He was fine and he was healthy.”
However, Maunday was said to have awakened his wife around 4.45 am yesterday, complaining that he was unable to breathe. Despite several attempts by health officials at the Arima Health Facility to resuscitate him, Gabrielle said it was not to be. An avid runner, Maundy was described as a very charismatic person who was committed to his family and guiding young people along the right path.
Revealing that her father kept busy by volunteering at the Civilian Conservation Corp, the Adult Literacy Tutors Association and En ToTo, Gabrielle said: “He was always happy and positive and he was always humble.” A teary-eyed Wendy said: “I didn’t expect this at all. He was always a stickler for exercise and making sure everything was on track.” Unwilling to speculate about the cause of death until an autopsy is performed today, Wendy said theirs was a romance that started back in school. The couple had been married 30 years.
Recalling her husband’s passions, Wendy said he was proud of his master’s degree in human resource management, which he obtained from the University of the West Indies in 2012. Adding that he recently began playing pan, Wendy said: “He grew up in the armed forces. He loved his job but he never neglected his family and always managed to take care of everybody else.” Vice-chief of Defence Staff Brig Gen Anthony Phillips-Spencer described the Maundays as a “model couple.”
As army personnel erected tents in the backyard, Phillips-Spencer said: “He helped to shape my career and was always a good source of counsel and an excellent example.” A family friend, who declined to reveal her name, said Maunday “was an inspiration to all, both young and old.” Remembering Maunday’s warm nature, the woman said his door was always open to anyone and he listened and encouraged everyone to work hard for what they wanted.
Lending his support to the family, Lt Cdr Don Polo also said: “He was an inspiring figure but so very gentle.” Extending condolences and support to the family, Defence Force officials described Maunday as “a true patriot, a diplomat and a hard-working member of the Defence Force.” Funeral arrangements will be announced after the autopsy.
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