Born 12 December, 1922, in East End, Grand Cayman, Percival Wilbert (Will) Jackson was the son of Lydia Welcome-Jackson and Herbert Jackson. When Lydia passed away, Will was only 4 years old, at which time his dear old aunt Florrie Bodden and Simpson Jackson took him in their care, raising him as he was their own son, teaching him all the Christian principles that he lived by all of his life.
‘Brother Will’ as he was affectionately called, attended school in East End, Grand Cayman until was 14 years old under the tutelage of the late William Allen McLaughlin, whom Brother Will always told stories of what a great teacher Mr. Allen was, and attributed his basic education to him.
In 1942, at the age of 20 years, Mr. Will served as a Home Guard until he was transferred to the Police Force in 1945, remaining there until 1948. Like many Caymanians of his age, his ambitions took him to sea, from 1948 to 1967. Mr. Will had many outstanding memories of his life, some enjoyable and others mind boggling. However, Percival (Will) Jackson was, and will be remembered, as one of the best cooks and stewards on NBC ships. Claiming his fame of being chief steward on one of the largest ships during his time – The Universe Leader – the world’s largest tank ship. On her maiden voyage this ship was the object of attention with spectators and reporters.
He was introduced to Port Steward Mr. Hotvest by the ships Captain. The message was that he – Mr. Percival Jackson – was chosen by the owner of NBC, Capt. Daniel K. Ludwig to cater and oversee to a party for 430 of his millionaire friends. On completion, Captain Daniel Ludwig was so moved and appreciative of Mr. Will’s performance, he had the captain summon Mr. Will to his office and instructed the captain to pay Mr. Will $500 in overtime – that was plenty money in those days. Mr. Will always said it was seafarers who brought a change to the economy of the Cayman Islands and that it was all accomplished by the good grace of the almighty God, working through one man, Capt. Daniel K. Ludwig, prospering him, so that he could help poor people.
On 30 January, 1965, Mr. Will was united in marriage to the love of his life, Sybil Marie Harris. It did not take him long to realise where he would rather be and soon ended his memorable sea career to settle back home, first in George Town and later to the district of his birth, East End.
His new jobs included three years as a floor manager with Merren’s Supermarket on Shedden Road followed by a new career in insurance with First Federal Insurance, where both he and his wife worked – Mr. Will as a sales agent and Ms. Sybil as secretary.
Being the strong force they had become as husband and wife, Mr. Will and Mrs. Sybil decided it was enough of working for others and started their own business in East End, a grocery store Will & Sybil’s Little Economy Store, which they operated for 21 years and served the general public with excellence.
Mr. Will was inspired in his early days with history told to him by his grandfather, Simpson Stonewall Jackson and other older folks that lived around him. He was a prolific writer and wrote about the Caymanian days of old, in the Times, Trade Winds, Nor’wester, The Caymanian Compass and Cayman Net News.
He has published three books; ‘Up from the Deep’, ‘The Beginnings of the Cayman Islands’ in 1966, and ‘Smoke Pot Days’ in 1999. He also has manuscripts with the Museum, ‘The Settlers’ and ‘Down by the Sea’.
Mr. Will, besides having a love for the sea, also loved the land and was a farmer. He grew many crops and was always happy to share his harvest with others; for which God always blessed him and his farm.
Mr. Will was a Christian man and a member of the Seventh Day Adventist for over 63 years. He served over 33 years of unbroken service as head elder to the East End Seventh Day Adventist Church and was awarded for his long and faithful service by the Cayman Islands Mission of Seventh Day Adventists and by the East End Seventh Day Adventist Church. Besides elder, he held many other offices. He was also a marriage officer, lay preacher and performed these services for some 27 years. On 24 November, 1976, he was sworn in as a justice of the peace and joined the Justice’s of Peace Association on 29th April, 2000, where he was well respected.
Mr. Will has served his country well, and earned many awards:
1997 he received an honorary degree, Bachelor of Arts for his contribution to society from West Indies College, now Northern Caribbean University.
1998 The Queen’s Award – Certificate of Honour
1998 Water Authority award for pioneering and organization of water works in the Cayman Islands (Also a founding member, his name is also displayed on the wall of National Heros.
2002 Paul Harris Fellow – Rotary Club Grand Cayman
2002 Quincentennial National Cultural Ambassador
2003 Masters of Humanities – International College of the Cayman Islands
2003 Admirable Life Well Lived – N.S. Quincentennial Committee
2007 Medal of an Officer in the Order of the British Empire
Mr. Will was a true Caymanian of distinguished service and contribution to the culture and heritage of the country. He has told a story from the unique perspective of one who personally experienced the events.
Preceding him in death are his parents, Lydia and Herbert Jackson; his baby girl; one sister; and one brother. For some time, Mr. Will was confined to his house, because of ill health – but praising God for the days of good health.
On 24 November he left us to be with the God he has served for so many years.
I have heard Brother Will say, ”What a day that will be”.
Left to mourn his passing are his loving and devoted wife of 48 years, Sybil Jackson; son Denny Jackson; grandsons Randall and James Jackson; sister-in-law Ruby Harris; Lloyd Samson, his very special and devoted nephew; Carmilee Pearson, whom he considered as his daughter; Valarie Hall, devoted and loving caregiver; two special and devoted cousins Matalda McLaughlin and Ike Welcome; two special and devoted friends Coris Bush and Marquiss McLaughlin; his church family; and a host of other relatives and friends.
May his good works perpetually shine, and his soul rest in peace.