During this season of joy, we, at EVERYBODY’S, are mourning the loss of Hayden Roger Celestin, one of our photojournalists and a cherished friend. Personalities Celestin photographed for national and international publications included then private citizen Donald Trump playing a steelpan, then First Lady Hillary Clinton and Venus and Serena Williams.
Roger, as he was called, was born in Trinidad & Tobago 64 years ago. A promising high school athlete, he sustained a lifelong injury in a track & field event in Trinidad. Decades later, he underwent spinal surgery at the Hospital for Special Surgery in Manhattan. As a result, he remained in a rehabilitation center for more than a year. It was one of his happiest days when he finally went home determined to walk again and continue his photography. His willingness to think positive and love of live sustained him. During the summer of 2019, he went into a coma; he remained in that state until his passing on December 14.
Left to mourn is his sister, on her way to New York to arrange his final rites, other family members and friends.
EVERYBODY’S PUBLISHER COMMENTS: “Roger joined EVERYBODY’S sometime in the 1980s. He planned to write articles but soon found another calling.
I encouraged Roger to take computer courses since personal computers (PCs) were becoming mainstream allowing newspapers and magazines to type manuscripts and do their design and layouts on them rather than sending the manuscript to cold typesetters and the galleys to designers. Within months Rogers became a pro. He designed EVERYBODY’S on our newly acquired PC.
Sitting in front a desk and a computer and mastering Microsoft and Apple software was not challenging for Roger. He told me he invested in a camera and planned to take a course in photography. Within a short time, he was “pestering” me to apply for a New York City Press Pass for him. Before I could count ten, Roger’s photographs were used by New York’s Daily News, New York Post, Washington Post and in overseas publications.
In 2018, when I had my own health issues, Roger called me almost every day with words of encouragement. He was the only person who knew how deeply I felt about the passing of calypsonian/soca artist Shadow and my pains. His fellow photographers brought him in the snow and rain to the tribute to shadow. I discouraged him from attending but he wanted to mourn with me and to salute a calypso icon. Sitting in his wheelchair, the photographs he took of the tribute were stunning.
This year 2019, Roger insisted on coming to the Oliver Samuels play in Brooklyn. His fellow photographers Hakim Mutlaq and Leonard McKenzie brought him. His photographs of scenes in the play were fabulous.
When I visited him at Maimonides Hospital on December 8th, I realized the end was near. It will weigh heavily on my conscience if I do not publicly praise Jared McCallister, a Daily News journalist, for his selfless devotion to Roger by visiting him almost daily and for keeping Roger’s immediate family living in Trinidad aware of his condition.”