Caymanian innovator, visionary dies

Charles top

Captain Charles Kirkconnell, a
business pioneer and a celebrated former elected member of Executive Council
has passed away.

 Mr. Kirkconnell died at roughly 8pm on
Thursday, 18 February, after a long illness.

Family member and Member of the
Legislative Assembly for the Sister Islands Moses Kirkconnell said Captain
Charles had been at the South Miami Hospital in Florida, but the decision was
made to airlift him home Thursday.

“It was not unexpected but it
happened quicker than we thought it would,” said Mr. Kirkconnell.

A man also seen as a pillar in the
Cayman Islands business community, Linton Tibbetts, commented on the passing of
the man he called his best friend.

“I hardly slept last night just
thinking about times gone by,” he said.

“During World War II, we were
separated for a while because he was captaining ships and I was in the US, but
after that time we always stayed very close.”

The two men, along with several
others, also launched Cayman Brac Power and Light among their many accomplishments
together.

Mr. Tibbetts added that he had been
speaking with Captain Charles every week during his treatment in Miami and
thought he might get better, but somehow he took a turn for the worse.

As word of Mr. Kirkconnell’s death
spread throughout the Cayman Islands, the reaction was one of great sadness; although
the weight of his passing has been tempered by the fact that he had been ailing
for some time, say his loved ones.

They said the Cayman Islands lost a
treasure of a man and they were blessed to have him while they did.

Woody Foster of Foster’s Food Fair
IGA spoke fondly of his long-time competitor in the supermarket business.

“The term competitor was matter of
semantics with our families, as it was always friendly and we even later became
partners in Progressive Distributors.”

He said Captain Charles’ business
acumen was extremely sharp/

“It was a privilege to see the
Captain and my father sit together and discuss business and it has helped to
shape me in to the man I am today.”

Mr. Foster explained that Captain
Charles and his father had the same model of ethics and the whole Foster family
looked up to him.

The two men also sat on the Board
of Directors for British Caymanian Insurance and during Hurricane Ivan, Woody
said there was no hesitation about whether to supplement their interests and
ensure that they took care of Caymanians.

Mr. Foster said Mr. Kirkconnell
didn’t throw his money around and lived in the same home in South Sound for
long as he could remember.

 “He had no need to let people know he amassed
any kind of wealth,” he said.

During Captain Charles’ tenure in
the Executive Counsel of the Legislative Assembly, he sat with the late Sir
Vassel Johnson, Benson Ebanks and Norman Bodden.

Mr. Bodden said Captain Charles was
not only a great businessman, but he was true son of the soil and a patriot who
cared deeply for his people.

“He has been a great help to these
Islands, though many of his days were unheralded, as he was a very private
man.”

Mr. Bodden said Mr.
Kirkconnell,  during his time on the
Executive Council, was responsible for the development of roads, infrastructure
and schools in Cayman Brac.

He said he fondly remembered a decision
that had to be made to widen the South Sound Channel to which there was much
opposition, but with the vast experience from being a sea captain, Mr. Kirkconnell
knew it was the right thing to do. It eventually worked out so that boaters had
more access and everyone was happy, recounted Mr. Bodden 

He said Mr. Kirkconnell stood for
what was right and proper and quoted the words of Henry Wadsworth
Longfellow saying, “The lives of great men all remind us we can make our lives
sublime and departing they leave behind footprints on the sands of time.”

Funeral arrangements for the late
Captain Charles will be announced shortly.    
 

Charles

(Caymanian innovator) Captain Charles.
Photo: Submitted

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