The late social advocate Oneil Brown was less than five years old when his mother died, leaving him in the care of her relatives in Lluidas Vale district, St Catherine.
His main tower of strength over the four decades of his life was his maternal grandmother, Amanda Montgomery, who has been hospitalized since she suffered a stroke on Monday, March 18.
That’s two days after she, along with other relatives, were stunned by the sudden passing of Oneil at his Lluidas Vale home.
“He was found dead [about 9 o’clock Saturday evening]. It seems as though he was sleeping, fell off the bed, and was on his back – eyes open; mouth open; nothing out of him,” said Aldane Brown, nephew of the deceased.
Aldane told The Beacon that he last saw Oneil a day before death struck, adding that his uncle was very active – only complaining about flu-like symptoms. “He was only saying that he had the flu, but it wasn’t that bad at the time. When I saw him, he seemed quite fine; he was talking well; he was moving around well.”
He stated that, although Oneil did not have a close relationship with his father who lives overseas, he was a great father to his two boys. “He was a caring father; he loved his sons and he showed it,” Aldane added.
He said Oneil, who in recent years became affected by the skin condition called vitiligo, was jovial, helpful, and was always willing to give a listening ear.
Oneil was not only a good listener; he also wanted to be heard, especially in his fight against the social discrimination he faced when he struggled with vitiligo, which is neither contagious nor deadly.
In September last year, Oneil approached The Beacon with the following appeal for an end to the social discrimination against him:
The video and story containing Oneil’s appeal reached several thousand people locally and internationally, with persons contacting The Beacon up to last month, requesting contact information for Oneil – some wanting to assist him with medical expenses.
Oneil, however, was often hard to reach via telephone in recent months.
A native of the United States, Gina Manderson, who was among people who succeeded in contacting Oneil through The Beacon, wrote:
In the meantime, Mauva Montgomery, one of Oneil’s aunts, stated that, although her nephew faced an amount of social discrimination, he had a lot of friends.
“I was surprised when I heard that he died. He was sometimes miserable, but he was a nice person to get along with,” she said. “My nephew had a lot of friends. Some people scorn him, but he was a loving person; he was also hardworking.”
By Horace Mills, Journalist
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