'Sonny Boy' Bodden, a good life remembered

James Ashmead Bodden passed away, age 85

Cayman is mourning another of its prominent community figures. James Ashmead “Sonny Boy” Bodden died last Tuesday at home with his family. He was 85. 

Mr. Bodden’s family said he passed peacefully. 

Born in George Town in 1930, he attended school there and worked on local boats, before joining the Public Works Department in 1948. He went to sea with National Bulk Carriers and was chief pump-man before he left the seafaring life in 1955. 

Returning to Cayman, he met and married Rose Marie at the Elmslie Memorial Church in George Town in February 1956. Mrs. Bodden describes her husband as being very meticulous. “He took his time to do everything because he wanted it to be perfect,” she said.  

Overhearing her one day saying she wished she didn’t drop things so much, she recalls him saying, “You are always in a hurry, take your time and do what you are doing.” 

Mrs. Bodden was working at a store in George Town when Sonny Boy first said hello. That evening, when she was walking home from work, he rode up behind her on his bicycle and started chatting. After seeking and obtaining permission from her mother, they started dating.  

One day he said to her, “You know I am falling in love with you.“  

“I didn’t want him to know but I was falling for him too,” Mrs. Bodden said. 

Mr. Bodden worked at the Yacht Club as assistant manger before starting his own tire business, after accepting a proposal from D&G salesmen to sell branded products in Cayman.  

In 1961, along with Rose Marie, he leased and then operated the Bayview Hotel – one of the few hotels in Cayman at the time. 

Mr. Bodden became manager for Esso in the Cayman Islands in November 1962. In April 1985, he resigned to help his wife with the business Bodden Beverages. They sold the business in October, 2012. 

Service club supporter 

Mr. Bodden was also a charter member and past president of the Rotary Club of Grand Cayman.  

He also served on the Planning Board and the Pines Retirement Home Committee. He was a member and past councilor of the Chamber of Commerce and member and past master of the Cayman Lodge, an officer of the District Grand Lodge of Jamaica, a member of the Mark Lodge, the Royal Arch Chapter and Rose Croix.  


In 1985, he was made a Member of the British Empire in 1985, listed in the Queen’s Birthday Honours for his public and community services in the Cayman Islands. 

Mr. Bodden loved the sea, said his wife. When he was 12 years, his father’s ship was torpedoed and Mr. Bodden dropped out of school to work – shining shoes at the naval base in Cayman.  

“He was always around his grandfather who built boats and whereever the boat sailed, he wanted to be on it.” Mrs. Bodden recalled.  

He also joined many other seamen who went to Mosquito Key, off the coast of Nicaragua, in his teens to catch turtles. 

Mrs. Bodden said people often would ask how they could work together all day, get on so well and then go home and still be good to each other. “I told them we just got on good. I am not saying we never had a problem or argument, we just never got into anything serious,” she said.  

She said she and her husband traveled quite a bit with the children and grandchildren and had wonderful times. “We had a good life, we worked hard and enjoyed it too,” she said.  

Playful side 

She added, “Sonny Boy always did tell me he was a serious person and never did play but wanted to learn things and work.” 

“He was a good husband and a good friend and he loved his children and the grandchildren,” Mrs. Bodden said. 

“Grandpa could be very serious at times but he did have a good sense of humor,” said his granddaughter Trisha.  

“His shirt was always tucked in, [he] always wore a belt and his hair [was] immaculate,” Trisha said. 

She said she brought out the fun side of her grandpa. “I could dig and mess up his hair, brush it different ways and he found it so funny. A lot of his playful moments came out when he and I would get together. We miss him terribly.” 

Mr. Bodden is survived by his wife Rose Marie; son Adrian, daughters Kathy and Audry; grandchildren Trisha, Joni, Stephen, Andrew, Aidan, and Brittney; great-grandchildren Kaelan and Kyle. 

A funeral service will be held at Agape Family Worship Centre at 2 p.m. on Saturday, May 23.  

“We had a good life, we worked hard and enjoyed it too.” Rose Marie, wife of “Sonny Boy 

James ‘Sonny Boy’ Bodden on a cruise in 1999.