He may have just turned 80 years old, but Cayman Airways customer service employee Guy McDaniel has no shortage of enthusiasm, knowledge, and love for life that keeps him happy and healthy.
In fact, this airline veteran, who has been working in the industry for about 50 years, has conquered many challenges through his work in various different countries.
On his retirement from Pan-American Airlines after 41 years, Mr. McDaniel and his wife Marguerite moved to Grand Cayman in the late 1980s.
In his 19 years in the Cayman Islands Mr. McDaniel has spent the most recent eight and half as one of the familiar friendly faces behind Cayman Airways. Before this he worked for a short spell with Northwest Airlines and prior to that with Cayman Tours and Travel.
It was a chance meeting with CAL’s President and CEO Mike Adam that led to the job with the national flag carrier. In fact, Mr. McDaniel had worked with Mr. Adam’s mother with Pan-Am previously in Jamaica.
Based at the airport on Mondays, Tuesdays and Wednesdays, Mr. McDaniel handles accounting and reports for the airline.
When asked if people wonder how he can still come into work in his 80th year, he smiles, ‘People seem to ask me if I’m o.k. a lot’.
And this cheery gentleman asserts that he is happy to keep on working if Cayman Airways will keep him.
Even in the direct aftermath of Hurricane Ivan, Mr. McDaniel was right there at the front lines to assist in the emergency evacuations from the island. ‘I was just trying to help keep things moving, doing anything that needed to be done,’ he asserts.
Born in Kingston, Jamaica in 1926, Mr. McDaniel went to school there and joined Pan-American Airways at the age of 19.
His 41 years with this company saw him start off running to boats to load briefcases onto seaplanes and end up as director of the airline for Jamaica and various other countries.
Following a three year stint as director of the airline in his home country, a closure of the office in Jamaica caused Mr. McDaniel to be transferred to Guyana as the airline’s director there.
He was there during the Jim Jones Cyanide debacle. This involved the murder/suicide of over 914 followers of Jim Jones. They perished in a remote Guyana jungle after being ordered to drink cyanide-laced Kool-Aid. It was a challenging experience to be based there during this time, he recalls.
Following four and a half years in Guyana Mr. McDaniel was transferred to Guatemala. He remained there 10 months, before their office there was bombed.
Another transfer sent him to Santiago, Chile where he spent 14 months as director of the airline. This was during the period of the Falklands War, when the UK was fighting Argentina. Following his spell in Chile Mr. McDaniel was transferred back to the Caribbean – to Antigua – where he was stationed for three to four years before moving to Grand Cayman.
Aside from Mr. McDaniel’s work life, he is kept busy in his spare time with his family. He and his wife have three daughters: Anne Walker, a partner in Maples and Calder in Hong Kong; Suzette Darby, who runs Colonial Club here with her husband John; and Christine Sanders, Manager Cayman Islands Cancer Society.
He and his wife also have six grandchildren and four great-grandchildren scattered all over the world.
Married for 56 years, throughout their lives Mr. McDaniel and his wife have based their lives on their love of God, family and work.
‘I’ve always tried to do justice and have mercy,’ he explains.
The advice he would offer to young people starting out in a career is this: ‘They have to realise that when you are working for a company you give it almost everything you have’.
Having turned 80 earlier this month Mr. McDaniel did not have a big celebration. This will happen when the whole family is together again, hopefully soon. In the meantime, he considers himself lucky to have such a family, and to have had the opportunity to travel and experience so much over the years. ‘My years in Pan-Am and Cayman Airways have been good years,’ he fondly asserts.