The hundreds of mourners who gathered at the Emmanuel Baptist Church in Eagle Hall, St Michael were a reminder that fisherman-vendor Stephen Molly Small was a pillar of not only the Bridgetown Fisheries Market but the national fishing industry.
As the church overflowed with mourners, many peering through the windows and the doors, to take part in the funeral for the 57-year-old Henley, St John resident who was known for being kind, caring and gentle spirit.
Dressed in azure blue, Molly’s four children, Melissa, Shontelle, Stephen and Sheridan, and his mother Elsa Small bore faces etched in pain throughout the two-hour service.
Tears flowed freely from family and friends who lost their comforter and strength on September 7, when he was robbed, stabbed and left for dead. Yet, rather than dwell on the circumstances surrounding his death, family and friends sang jovial songs and spoke of his friendliness, his love for his family and his relationship with the Bridgetown fishing community.
Calypsonian Donella Weekes-Oliver gave a moving and powerful acapella performance of He’ll Do It Again for her beloved neighbour who she described as “a sweet soul”. His niece Tammisha Small recalled Molly’s love and excitement during a game of 13-hand tonk. One of the ancillary staff of the Bridgetown market, Milanese Holder, remembered the fisherman-vendor of Stall #4 as a uniquely loving, kind-hearted, good man, who was one of the few vendors never to raise his voice in the otherwise boisterous fish market.
“Never did he get into any conflict with young or old. Molly was willing to assist anyone in anyway even if it meant leaving out himself,” Holder said.
Daughters Melissa and Shontelle performed Sam Smith’s Lay Me Down, but during their performance Melissa couldn’t continue as her voice cracked but soon the fisherman’s eldest child was also inconsolable.
During the eulogy, Shontelle described Small as the ideal father, “the type that little girls prayed for”. She spoke of her father’s selflessness and his willingness to give to others regardless of his circumstances.
“To some people, he was a second chance because when others were… down and out and they talked to my dad and mentioned the situation that they were in, he tried to help because that was a defining part of who he was as a person. It was his blessing and his fatal flaw,” said Shontelle.
Shontelle recalled how her father always put his family and his children first, never missing an important occasion throughout their childhood and adulthood – he was always just a phone call [away]. Always.
“My dad was our hero, he could do nothing wrong. He was always there, in every situation every graduation, every problem you have to just call Daddy,” Shonetlle shared.
“As a man of the house my father was a provider and a friend to his children who took his job very seriously and got up every day, rain or sun, in sickness and in health and went to work to make sure that those around him were cared for,” she continued.
Even when the fishing season was looking gloomy or he was disgruntled with the behaviour in the fish market, Molly always looked at the brighter side of the picture, Shontelle revealed. Instead of seeping into a state of despair, her father would simply reply ‘Girl, I just here trying to hold on’.
His positivity and infectious personality was also remembered by Minister of Maritime Affairs and the Blue Economy Kirk Humphrey who marvelled that the fishman-vendor was beloved by all who interacted with him.
To the delight of the fishing community in attendance, Humphrey announced that from next year the Minister’s Award will be renamed the Stephen Molly Small Award to fisherfolk who exemplify the spirit that Molly Small exhibited throughout his career.