Editor’s Note: The biographies of New Year’s honourees follows.
Mr. Seth Thomas (Tommy) Bodden, MBE, JP
For a boy who learnt to drive on his father’s Model T Ford, milked cows and sold the milk on the way to school and collected the bottles on the way home. Mr. Seth Thomas (Tommie) Bodden’s life has been a reflection of the values and standards of generations gone.
Recalling that his father, the late William Thomas Bodden also earned the distinction of MBE, Mr. Bodden said he is proud to continue the legacy of helping his community, while building a life based on the same standards as those of his forbearers. His mother, Mrs. Roxie Ethyl Bodden, is still active at 91 years, and remains an inspiration to her family.
The church has been central to the Bodden family and to Mr. Bodden personally, as he attributes his earthly achievements to his dedication to God’s work. He says he was ‘born and raised’ in the local Church of God Full Gospel Hall, which his grandfather, the late James Heber Arch, founded in 1905, and over the years, Mr. Bodden’s constant dedication to his church’s work led to his appointment as a deacon and later as business manager.
The support of the extended Bodden and Arch families played a large role in shaping his life – true to the fashion of those earlier years. One of few young men with no strong penchant for going to sea, as a young teen he worked with Merren’s hardware store. His uncle Elroy Arch eventually brought him into his construction business, making the grand salary of one-pound (or two dollars) per day.
He built everything from homes to the Island’s first condominium complexes. Even in the early years he was a leader in the industry, being a founding member of the Cayman Contractor’s Association and serving as president for an entire decade.
Deciding to branch out on his own, in 1966 he built his first house independently, and built his own family home two years later. He especially enjoyed the early years of what was a strong industry, as a partner of Ranja Construction from1968 to1978 – when he formed ST Bodden Construction Company Ltd., which has been successful in the construction of many prominent buildings.
Mr. Bodden also supported the overall modernization of these Islands, especially following the onset of the development boom in the late 1970s. He was appointed president of the Chamber of Commerce from 1987 to 1989, and also served many years on its Business Council.
He was in the process of winding down his company before Hurricane Ivan hit in September. Even since then, in spite of many project invitations, he is concentrating on very few jobs, and his main priority is to finish the house for his youngest daughter, Thalia. Mr. Bodden and his wife Eleanor Elizabeth have two other children – Philip and Donna.
Having served for years on the JP Association’s Council, Mr. Bodden intends, in his ‘retirement’ years, to increase his involvement as a Justice of the Peace, and plans to attend workshops to prepare him for possible public service in the courts.