Charles Adams was a man of vision, drive, integrity, culture, intellect, intuition and humour. He was pugnacious and combative but also magnanimous, public spirited and generous.
He had an instinctive sense of fairness. He set high standards for himself and expected the same of others. He was a pioneer and patriot of the Cayman Islands.
Charles was born in Melbourne, Australia in June 1921, but was raised in the north of England.
He began an accounting career, but with the intervention of World War II, he enlisted into the 50th Royal Tank Regiment and deployed to Egypt with the legendary 8th Army. In 1943, he transferred to the Intelligence Corps and was then commissioned into the Durham Light Infantry with whom he served until the end of the war. He was proud to be a part of the 8th Army’s defeat of Rommel’s feared Afrika Korps and revered his commander, General Montgomery, often mimicking him in later life. Churchill described the victory at El Alamein as the end of the beginning. So too with Charles’s life.
He moved on with the Army to France, Belgium and Germany and after the war he transferred to the King’s Own Yorkshire Light Infantry in Palestine. He left the Army with the rank of Captain and took a law degree at Durham University. He was admitted to the Law Society as a solicitor in 1950.
Charles married Mary Shackleton in 1951. Charlie was born in the same year and Neil in 1954.
He joined his aunt’s law firm in Gateshead in the north of England and moved on to the Colonial Service as Federal Administrator General in Lagos, Nigeria in 1955. He then became partner in a law firm in Nairobi, Kenya, retiring when he sensed the political upheavals that were to follow soon after he left.
His third son Mark was born in Nairobi in 1958.
Charles came to Jamaica in 1960 as manager of the Bank of Nova Scotia Trust Company. In this role, he worked with the Minister of Finance to set up the Jamaica Stock Exchange. He drafted the public offerings of many big companies, notably Carreras Jamaica Ltd. (which was hugely oversubscribed), Pan Jamaican Investment Trust and others. Until then, Jamaicans had no way of investing in their country and for these achievements he was granted Jamaican citizenship.
Research into a deceased client’s estate led him to Grand Cayman where he immediately realised this country’s potential and with great difficulty persuaded the Bank of Nova Scotia to register a Trust company in the Cayman Islands. The Bank of Nova Scotia Trust Company (Cayman) Ltd. became the first registered trust company in the Cayman Islands in October 1965. He asked to be transferred to Cayman but was told to go back to Jamaica, so he resigned.
Charles was then approached by the Crown Agents and Continental Bank of Illinois to start a merchant bank in Cayman and Jamaica. Caribbean Bank (Cayman) Limited and its subsidiary Crown Continental Merchant Bank Jamaica Limited were incorporated in 1970 and had great plans to extend throughout the Caribbean until the UK Labour government pulled the Crown agents out of the partnership and Continental Bank collapsed in the US.
In 1975, Charles went into private practice as Charles Adams & Co., which later became Charles Adams, Ritchie & Duckworth. After his retirement from the firm, he continued to practise until very recently. His local business interests included investments in property and in Jacques Scott Group Ltd., where he was chairman from 1972 until 2001. He remained on the board until his death.
I have worked with him in Jacques Scott for most of my working life. I am one of many who have learnt a lot from him and owe a lot to him. We occasionally disagreed on issues but, time after time, he had the annoying habit of being right. He was a keen proponent and supporter of funded pensions and had the foresight to set up the group’s own pension plan, whose success was a great source of pride to him and comfort to its staff.
Charles married Susan Dutton in 1976 in Little Cayman. There followed 37 years of adventure, fun, hard work and happiness. Charles was devoted to Sue and her selfless tender care for him in the autumn of his life is testament to their love.
A man of strong principles, he had an inherent sense of right and justice for all. He never lost sight of the less fortunate in the community and gave many hours of his time to help people he felt were in need and where he saw what he considered to be an injustice. He served as a magistrate when called upon in the ‘80s and ‘90s and as a justice of the peace from 1987. He was a founding member of the Legal Advisory Council and served as president of the Cayman Islands Law Society for several years.
He was an authority on the development and planning laws of the Cayman Islands and had significant involvement in the drafting of Cayman laws. He played a pivotal role in establishing the Cayman Islands Law School, always promoting the training and success of Caymanians in the legal profession including those under his own tutelage. One of his articled clerks was Alden McLaughlin, whose election as premier was an immense source of satisfaction to him.
Since his early days in the islands, Charles championed the preservation of Caymanian heritage as the islands underwent swift development. He was the founding chairman of the Cayman Islands National Museum and was instrumental in the drafting of the Museum Law and in the acquisition of the Ira Thompson collection of artefacts, which form the nucleus of the museum’s collection.
He donated his time, knowledge and property to the National Trust and played a part in bringing the Institute of Nautical Archaeology to the Cayman Islands to undertake a survey of shipwrecks. Over the years, he saved several old traditional homes from demolition by organising their removal to other locations. These include the Steadman Bodden house, which is now at Pedro Castle, and two Caymanian cottages which he had dismantled and rebuilt on Seaview Road, Frank Sound.
Following his service in the British Army during World War II, the cause of the veterans became close to Charles’s heart and he was involved in the formation of the Cayman Islands Veterans Association in 1979. He served as vice-president during the early 1980s and as honorary secretary from 1984 to 2010. Being one of the fitter members for many years, he undertook the veterans’ arrangements for the traditional Queen’s Birthday Parade, Remembrance Day Parade and the annual Poppy Appeal. He spurred on its elderly and struggling membership with humour and understanding and spearheaded additional fundraising efforts for the Veterans’ Association to acquire land assets for the future benefit of its members.
His life was not all work. He loved being in the British countryside, hunting (shooting) pheasants with his friends and family, touring battlefields, discussing coins and medals with Charlie and, above all, working in the bush, both in Frank Sound and Little Cayman, setting huge bonfires and keeping the fire station in Frank Sound on its toes.
In 2003, Charles was diagnosed with Parkinson’s Disease. This did not deter him. He continued his legal practice, always striving to ensure that the principles of law were upheld, going out of his way to assist Caymanians and quietly lobbying to ensure that they continued to have a say in the future of their country. He continued his work for the Veterans’ Association to make sure no one was forgotten, what should be done was done properly and the memory and honour of their fallen comrades was upheld. In 2007, his services to the community, business and Caymanian heritage were recognised in the award of an OBE by Her Majesty, The Queen. This touched him greatly. He fought his ailments bravely and, until a few months ago, visited his office daily to keep in touch with his practice, his own interests and events in Cayman and beyond. His health finally failed him and he passed away peacefully at ho
me on 1 August at the age of 92.
He leaves behind his wife Sue, his three sons Charlie, Neil and Mark, their spouses Lori, Leonie and Tod, three stepsons Peter, Hugh and Paul, their spouses Paula and Lucie and nine grandchildren and stepgrandchildren Katie, Jonathan and his wife Kate, Guy, James, Pierre, Mary, Connie, George and Alice.
He will be greatly missed.
Eulogy written by Peter and Paula Dutton and Sue Adams and delivered by Mr. Dutton at Mr. Adams’s funeral on 6 August.