There have been a number of stories circulated over the past few days relating to how much the late Aidan Joseph Maloney had contributed to Newfoundland and Labrador during his lifetime.
There have also been a number of stories about how he touched the lives of so many people, and left a mountain of inspiration in his wake.
The former politician, humanitarian and businessman, and member of the Order of Canada, died Friday at the age of 97.
“What amazes me over my lifetime is how many times I run into people who say they were inspired by Mr. Maloney, and there are a half dozen people who told me he actually paid for their education, people who couldn’t afford tuition,” said Peter Whittle, who is married to Maloney’s granddaughter Kristine.
“He was an incredible man and he did a lot in his life. We like to think that we are celebrating his passing … it’s a little sad for us, but he had an impact upon everyone like you wouldn’t believe.
“He was an honest individual, a very egalitarian person who always put service above self. And he practiced that in business, in his volunteer activities and certainly in his home activities. Mr. Maloney was someone whom, if you met him once, you were inspired by him.”
Maloney was born, and grew up in, King’s Cove, Bonavista Bay — something longtime friend Ed Roberts says Maloney was extremely proud of.
He said Maloney’s family had owned the meadow referred to in the 1930s poem “Pat Murphy’s Meadow” by J.M. Devine, also a King's Cove native, that was later made into a popular song. Maloney’s mother’s family were Murphys.
“He was one of the most decent people I’ve ever met. I never heard him say an unkind word about anybody,” Roberts said. “He knew an immense amount about Newfoundland and Labrador. He was always proud of having grown up in King’s Cove, but he knew the whole province, and knew an immense amount about the fishing business.”
According to information in his obituary, Maloney began his working life as the general manager of John Penny and Sons Ltd. in Ramea before becoming provincial deputy minister of fisheries, minister of fisheries, MHA for Ferryland district, president of the Canadian Salt Fish Corp., chairman of the Fisheries Prices Support Board and honorary consul to Japan.
On Oct. 21, 1992, Maloney was awarded the Order of Canada, invested on April 21, 1993. His citation reads that he gave “exceptional service to his province throughout his career in the fishing industry. Former president and current director of the Canadian Saltfish Corporation, he revived the lagging saltfish industry of the ’70s, thereby contributing to the economic and social life of Newfoundland and Labrador.”
Maloney was a devoted family man and churchgoer who loved spending special days and events with all his family. He also devoted a lot of volunteer time to the community.
“His family is a close family,” Whittle said. “I think what we’ll cherish the most is all the family time we had with him, and every moment with him was always a good time. He was just the consummate gentleman. I never heard him talk about anyone else. He taught us the virtues to work hard and to respect people like you would like to be respected.
“He was a great role model for all of our children. Family and church were very important to Mr. Maloney. Until he got to the point where he couldn’t anymore, he was usually here every evening to see his great-grandchildren — I have three sons and his only great-grandchildren.
"He was an incredible man.”
Maloney was also a recipient of The Centennial Medal, The Queens Silver Jubilee Medal, a doctor of law (honorary) degree from Memorial University, Canadian Red Cross Humanitarian of the Year and the Order of the Rising Sun.
He was a long-term chairman of the board for St. Clare’s Hospital and a board member for the Newfoundland Quarterly Foundation, Historic Sites Association and Railway Coastal Museum. He was district governor of the Lions Club, a Paul Harris Fellow with Rotary International, a Knight of Malta and a life member of the Knights of Columbus.
He also found time to be a member of the choir at Mary Queen of Peace Church in St. John’s.
In addition, he personally funded scholarships focusing on musical excellence, young professionals and fisheries research. Over his lifetime, he positively affected Newfoundland and Labrador’s cultural, historical and religious community at an exemplary level.
In January 1991, the provincial government released a major report on the province’s fishery headed by Maloney.
“The Maloney Inquiry into the Alleged Erosion of the Newfoundland Fishery by Non-Newfoundland Interests,” was an investigation into what was driving the decline of the Newfoundland and Labrador fishery.
Roberts said Maloney was a hard-working, loyal and dedicated man.
He was also an honorary vice-chairman of the Wessex Society in St. John’s and a fine salmon fisherman.
“We were best friends for many, many years. We thought alike on a lot of things,” Roberts said. “We’d go off for lunch or a cup of tea and a chat. He had a long, good life and we’ll miss him.”
Maloney died at the Caribou Memorial Veterans Pavilion in St. John’s. He leaves behind his beloved daughter Maureen Murphy (John); his three grandchildren Kristine Whittle (Peter), Mark Summers, and Kathryn Summers and their father David Summers; three cherished great-grandchildren, Aidan, Liam and Conor; his brother Brian, sister-in-law Margaret, nieces and nephews and their families; and a large circle of friends. He was predeceased by his wife Eva (Wyse), his parents Mike and Alice Rose Maloney (Murphy), sister Mary, brother Pat and sister-in-law Bette.
Cremation has taken place. Visitation began Monday at Carnell’s Funeral Home, 329 Freshwater Rd. It takes place again today from 2-4 p.m. and 7-9 p.m.
A mass of Christian burial will be held at the Basilica of St. John the Baptist on Wednesday at 10 a.m.