Farewell Desmond Pereira

Born in 1922, Desmond Pereira, former headmaster of Muar High School, celebrated his 94th birthday in Dec 2016, just days before he passed away peacefully on Dec 17.

Desmond Pereira on his 90th birthday
in 2012 with grandson, Leonard Theng
I met Mr Pereira for an interview to share his story, Memories of Muar High School, a centerspread feature published in Johor Streets of The New Straits Times in August 2009.

He lived with his daughter, Genevieve and her husband, James Theng, along with a few pet dogs in their home in Taman Kebun Teh, Johor Baru. 

I can still remember his sharp wit and memory as he recalled names, places and events to share with me, his thoughts and anecdotes from the past.

A few years later I visited them again and saw how Mr Pereira was deteriorating in health as he advanced with age.  But he was in good hands, with tender, loving care from Genny, as she was fondly called, and her family.

While Genny took care of him during the day, James would keep an eye on him at night.  In recent weeks, her father probably suffered a mild stroke because his speech was impaired and he gradually found it difficult to speak.

As he failed to communicate through speech, Mr Pereira – true to his role as a former educator – continued to communicate with his family by writing out his words.

While Genny and James observed his weak condition and wanted to send him to hospital, she said her father was lucid enough to tell her, “No!”  And went on to say that he wanted to die at home.

Desmond Pereira passed away peacefully on Dec 17, 2016
Early on Saturday morning, Dec 17, James observed that Mr Pereira had quietly slipped away in his sleep sometime after 6am.  

After making the funeral arrangements, there was not enough time to rush an Obituary for publication in the newspapers.  As such, many did not learn about his peaceful passing until much later.

As news of his passing was shared, readers returned to my story on Mr Pereira’s illustrious career and I observed how it quickly climbed up in the list of popular posts in My Johor Stories.

When I expressed by condolences to Genny, I could empathize with her as I too lost my dad recently.  It’s uncanny that our dads were both born in 1922 and were the same age.  While my dad passed away at the start of 2016 on Jan 17, Mr Pereira passed on Dec 17, at the end of the same year.

Mr Pereira will be dearly missed but may the peace of knowing that he is at his final resting place, comfort the family through this time.  Rest in Peace, Mr Pereira. 

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