On the front cover of the late Gladys Bravenec Howard’s memorial program was a representation of her last request of family, loved ones and friends from the Little Cayman community, in the form of Constance Jenkins’ poem “Weep Not for Me.”
The poem reads, in part, “Please do not dwell upon my death, but celebrate my life.”
With that, the staff of the resort she owned and ran for three decades, Pirates Point, the community of Little Cayman and the local district committee of Cayman Islands National Trust began a two-day affair in celebration of Ms. Howard’s life.
They began at the Little Cayman Baptist Church on Thursday evening, when family and friends from far and wide gave tribute to her hospitality, generosity, kindness, culinary genius, madcap adventures and zest for fun in life.
The furthest traveling contributor journeyed from Sweden to send off his former boyhood mentor in style. He had been a foreign exchange student under Ms. Howard’s care in her hometown of Tyler, Texas.
Thursday evening opened with her long-time employee and friend, Gay Morse, offering a piano prelude and her daughter, Susan Howard, giving an opening statement. Reverend Audley Scott officiated the services.
Her friend Suzy Soto paid tribute to Ms. Howard’s early pioneering days in Little Cayman, while Deputy Premier Moses Kirkconnell gave recognition of the benefits reaped in the Cayman Islands by Ms. Howard’s efforts.
The Sister Islands Tourism Association was represented by Ash McKnight, who presented a SITA plaque in her memory. The plaque has been erected in the resort’s lobby, under Ms. Howard’s picture and with a host of other accolades the hotel’s founder had earned over the years.
Former and current employees of Pirates Point took turns to tell stories of their tenure under Ms. Howard’s guidance.
Musical tributes were given from the Little Cayman Baptist Singers and Charmaine Coore.
Celebrations continued the following evening with a costumed street parade beginning from Southern Cross Resort at dusk. The whimsical crowd traveled slowly into the sunset, ending at Pirates Point Resort, where a party was held.
There, hosted by daughter Susan, the chefs and staff offered a feast and fete befitting any Ms. Howard would oversee herself, with a fun-filled evening of music and dancing. Singers and guitarists performed at the resort to pay final tribute in song. One was rewritten to commemorate and reflect on Ms. Howard’s contribution as an “eco-warrior” for the indigenous wildlife of Little Cayman.
Ms. Morse described the scene at the resort: “There was lots of music and dancing, with a conga line of people dancing through the bar. It was really quite Gladys. I am sure she was up there smiling.”
Ms. Howard passed away on Oct. 3, at the age of 83, at her home in Texas after a four-year battle with cancer.