|Frankie Rhys was a virtuoso on the saxophone.
Reknowned local jazz master, musician, school teacher and activist Frankie Rhys, 62, died at his home on South Street in Belize City at 12:30 AM Friday, February 19.
Diana Rhys, his wife for over 35 years, called the paramedics when he began to choke and he could not breathe . She said he choked to death. Doctors declared the cause of death to be chronic complications from diabetes.
Diana said Frankie had suffered with diabetes for more than 25 years, and had developed complications.
He was unable to talk, because the nerves controlling his vocal chords were damaged.
He also had difficulty in swallowing because the nerves that controlled those muscles in his throat were also damaged. The only way he could ingest food was from a tube to be inserted directly into his stomach, through which he was fed liquid food.
This affected his nutrition severely and his weight dwindled from 260 pounds to 119 pounds.
These changes depressed him, because he could not speak, he was being fed through tubes and no longer had the strength to play his music, which was the love of his life.
He was soon so weak, he was unable to walk, because the nerves in his legs were damaged and he was confined to his bed or a wheelchair.
But he remained in good spirits and was happy up to last Thursday February 18, the day before he died, Diana said.
She had taken him into their living room and had begun to answer correspondence on his computer.
He later began to feel tired and asked to be taken to his bed. He began to vomit shortly after and began to gasp for breath.
Diana said it was then she knew he was dying. She called her neighbor who then called the police and they came to see him. He still had a heartbeat, so they did not take him to the hospital, and instead told her to call an ambulance.
The ambulance came, and the paramedics examined and told her he was dead.They could not take him to the hospital, and she should call the police.
When she called the police and informed them of Frankie's death, they told her they could not come right then until seven the following morning
Diana said that she slept for the last time with Frankie's body beside her until the morning when the police took him to the morgue.