PROVIDENCE — When he stepped out of the car that day, Providence police Officer Edmond F. “Eddie” Malloy Jr. was well into his fifth year of battling metastatic liver cancer. In fact, he was just a few days removed from having bleeding tumors scraped out of his lungs.
But true to form, Malloy was bouncing back, still on the job — looking to walk across the new Providence River Pedestrian Bridge to get some fresh air in his lungs.
So on that hot August afternoon, Malloy and FBI Special Agent Ed Rodrick, his colleague on the Joint Terrorism Task Force, pulled down Power Street, heading for the bridge. That’s when they spotted more than 50 teenagers on stolen JUMP bikes surrounding a man who’d told them to stop blocking traffic.
Malloy stepped out of the car in plainclothes, lifting his shirt to show the badge and the gun on his belt, holding his police radio, yelling at the group to get out of there.
The group scattered.
“If we didn’t intervene, he would have been in bad shape or dead,” Rodrick said of the victim, who ended up with a swollen face and bloody lip.
When they got back in the car, Rodrick looked over at his friend. “I felt great, I felt strong,” Malloy told him. “Let’s go walk over that bridge.”
Right to the end, Eddie Malloy was doing the job he loved — protecting the public as a proud “capital city police officer,” as he put it. Right to the end, he was inspiring other cancer patients, living by the words “Never Give Up” and “Malloy Strong.”
“He’s a warrior,” Rodrick said. “He’s a humble guy but tough as nails and a true warrior.”
On Thursday, hundreds of mourners gathered at the Cathedral of Saints Peter and Paul in Providence to remember Malloy, who died on Oct. 31 at age 51.
A long line of law enforcement officers, wearing white gloves and blue or gray uniforms, filed into the cathedral behind Providence Mayor Jorge Elorza, Police Chief Hugh T. Clements Jr., and Public Safety Commissioner Steven Paré.
Amid the wail of bagpipes and the snap of snare drums, pall bearers carried Malloy’s flag-draped coffin up the cathedral steps as officers saluted and police motorcycles flashed their lights.
Rodrick wasn’t surprised by the turnout. “Everyone knew him, everyone loved him — whether you knew him for 10 minutes or 10 years,” he said. “He made you a better person.”
Malloy, who lived in Greenville, graduated from LaSalle Academy and served in the US Marine Corps. For the past three decades, he was a Providence police officer, working on the motorcycle unit, the SWAT team, and the sniper team. On the day he died, Clements and Paré promoted Malloy to sergeant, administering the oath in his hospital room.
Dante Bellini Jr., a friend who worked as executive vice president of the RDW Group, delivered the eulogy, imagining a conversation between Malloy and God.
Bellini, who wore a “Malloy Strong” T-shirt beneath a suit jacket, joked that “out of an abundance of caution, Eddie might frisk the deity.”
Malloy had seen “the worst that humans can do to one another” but “never lost faith in people” and “lifted up everyone,” Bellini said.
“Eddie lifted up by sharing a little of that magic Malloy hope,” he said.
In a separate interview, he said Malloy had been in and out of consciousness on that final day, and at one point Malloy opened his eyes halfway, spotting Bellini at the foot of his hospital bed.
“In one smooth motion, he lifted his left hand and extended his middle finger,” Bellini recalled with a laugh. “I responded in kind. It was the most beautiful gesture the man could have done for me.”
In an interview, Malloy’s Rhode Island oncologist, Dr. Howard Safran, said people with advanced liver cancer tend to live only about a year. Malloy, he said, inspired many other cancer patients by confronting the disease with an extraordinary amount of hope and courage.
“Ed was a tower of strength and a symbol for so many patients,” Safran said. “He had such a positive attitude despite such a terrible illness.”
In an interview in July, Malloy quoted “The Wizard of Oz,” saying, “A heart is not judged by how much you love, but by how much you are loved by others.”
Given the turnout for his funeral, Malloy had a very big heart indeed.