The career of Mr. Donovan “Donnie” Ebanks, – the consummate public servant, Cayman’s first Deputy Governor, and a respected arbiter across official and political lines of government – was lauded at his retirement reception at Government House last week.
Senior officers, colleagues, relatives and friends celebrated his 36 years’ service with gifts, good words and fond memories. They spoke of the many milestones reached as well as the challenges overcome – from budgets to hurricanes.
“Not bad for a North Side boy who didn’t wear shoes to school until I was 12, and whose family didn’t have electricity until I was in university,” Mr. Ebanks told the gathering.
While paying heartfelt tribute to the camaraderie of those who assisted and worked alongside him, he said, “However, it’s not about what I accomplished, it’s all about the shared effort.”
After first spending 19 “extremely enjoyable” years with the Public Works Department, the engineer became a leading civil servant. As Deputy Chief Secretary he oversaw Cayman’s protective services, including heading the National Hurricane Committee, and he finished his career as the most senior civil servant in these Islands.
The son of a politician – the late MLA Mr. Craddock Ebanks – Mr. Ebanks said he understood the two sides of the coin. He was also renowned for being frugal. “I felt it appropriate to spend government’s money as if it was my own,” he explained.
Governor Duncan Taylor wished Mr. Ebanks “Godspeed and a happy retirement”, and expressed gratitude for his support saying, “You have fulfilled your role very well.”
His parting gift was the first flag to fly over the new Government Administration Building.
Many other accolades from officials and friends followed.
“The calling to public service, properly performed, is a high calling,” said Premier McKeeva Bush.
Noting that there have been tremendous changes since Mr. Ebanks’ career began in 1975, the Premier added, “There is a lot we have done right, and the best homage to Donnie would be to maintain such high standards.”
New Deputy Governor Franz Manderson presented Mr. Ebanks with a Caymanite catboat on behalf of his staff and wished him ‘smooth sailing’.
Mr. Manderson thanked Mr. Ebanks for his leadership and noted that a fond memory of Mr. Ebanks will be his unique ability to explain a very complicated matter by using a witty analogy.”
And, “Mr. Donnie’s” parting advice to the civil service: “Put country before self, work hard, and you will be eventually rewarded.”