In Memoriam: Obituaries of 2015

Cayman’s first full-time Legislative Assembly Serjeant-At-Arms Bert Watler died on Nov. 24 at the age of 96. 

The Bodden Towner was born in 1919 and served on a U.S. troop ship for three years during World War II. He later worked in the oil fields in Venezuela for 23 years before returning to Grand Cayman in 1969. He served as the House Serjeant-at-Arms from 1974 through 1986, when he left to establish a real estate business. 

Mr. Watler received a Certificate and Badge of Honor from Queen Elizabeth II in 1983 on her first official visit to the Cayman Islands for his efforts in setting up the “Mother Needs Your Help” fund to assist Britain during the Falklands Islands crisis in 1982. 

Little Cayman tourism pioneer Gladys Howard died in Texas on Oct. 3 at the age of 81. Born in Temple, Texas, Ms. Howard bought Pirate’s Point Resort in Little Cayman in 1986. The diving resort, which was also known for its fine dining, helped establish Little Cayman as a tourism destination. She was passionate about preserving Little Cayman’s environment through the National Trust, one of the reasons the National Trust renamed its Little Cayman building after her this year. She was also inducted as an honoree into the International Scuba Hall of Fame the day before her passing. 

Pioneering land developer and realtor Rex Crighton died on Sept. 14 at the age of 81. 

After going to sea for eight years, Mr. Crighton returned to Cayman and founded the real estate company Crighton Properties Ltd., which sold hundreds of millions of dollars’ worth of properties over the years. He was also one of the first Caymanian property developers, some in partnership with his childhood friend, James M. Bodden. Other business interests he was involved in over the years included Crewe Road Tile & Building Material, Caribbean Furniture Co., Caribbean Motors and Sun Isle Insurance Co. Mr. Crighton was a past president of the Rotary Club of Grand Cayman Central and was a founding member of the Cayman Islands Real Estate Brokers Association. Even in his later years, Mr. Crighton remained well known for the elaborate Christmas decorations that adorned his home and yard in Spotts. 

Prominent businessman Tommy Hurlston died on May 16. He was 88. 

Born in Nassau, Bahamas, in 1927, he and his parents came to South Sound, Grand Cayman, that same year. Like most other males of the era, Mr. Hurlston went to sea in 1946 and saw the world. Upon his return to Grand Cayman, he served as the general manager of the Texaco bulk storage. He later became involved in Ace U-Drive-It Cars and the Atlantic department store. 

Mr. Hurlston was instrumental in establishing the Lions Club in Cayman and served as its founding president. His association with that organization continued until his death. 

Dr. Edlin Merren died on Grand Cayman on April 28 at the age of 83. 

In addition to practicing as a dentist in the Cayman Islands for 45 years starting in 1960, Mr. Merren served on numerous government committees and boards, acting at different times as chairman of the Cayman Protection Board, the Central Planning Authority and the Medical and Dental Society. He was also a founding members of the National Trust for the Cayman Islands. He also did extensive missionary work to other Caribbean countries, including Jamaica and the Dominican Republic, and 12 mission trips to Haiti. 

Cayman Islands aviation and telecommunications pioneer Carl Godet died on May 11 at the age of 82. 

A native of Turks and Caicos where he started his career with Cable & Wireless, he later moved to Jamaica and worked as an aeronautical and telegraph operator with British aeronautical firm IAL. In 1952, IAL transferred Mr. Godet to Grand Cayman when the Owen Roberts International Airport opened, thus beginning a long career in telecommunications in the Cayman Islands. Over the years, he was involved in several businesses, including Aeradio Service Ltd., AVCOM and Godet and Sons Vending. 

In 2004, he received a Queen’s Certificate and Badge of Honor for his services to aviation in Cayman. 

A number of notable Cayman Islands residents or former residents passed away in 2015. 

Perry Mathew George 

Dean of administration at the University College of the Cayman Islands, Perry George, passed away on April 29. He was 64. 

Mr. George, who was an economist, IT specialist and educator, joined UCCI, then called the Community College of the Cayman Islands, in 1996 as senior lecturer and head of the Computing Department. 

In 2000, he was promoted to associate professor and head of Arts and Sciences, where he was involved in the development of several associate and certificate programs as well as the establishment of a Student Counseling Department. 

He became the chair for the Council of Chairs in 2009 before being appointed dean of administration in 2011. 

Mr. George also served as First Vice President for the Association of Caribbean Tertiary Institutions, council member of the University of the West Indies (Mona and Open Campus) and FCMI member of the Chartered Institute of Management. 

Dominica-born Mr. George was also a keen club cricketer around the Caribbean and in London. He represented the Cayman Islands at Masters level, a team for which he also served as the treasurer for a number of years. 

Mr. George was also a member of the West Indies Cricket Board and was appointed a special member of the Cricket governing body in 2013. 

A number of notable Cayman Islands residents or former residents passed away in 2015 

James Ashmead ‘Sonny Boy’ Bodden, MBE 

Prominent businessman and community service activist Sonny Boy Bodden died on Grand Cayman on May 12. He was 85. 

After a stint as a seaman, Mr. Bodden returned to Grand Cayman in 1955 and became involved in numerous businesses over the years, including Bodden Beverages, which he sold in 2012. 

In 1965, Mr. Bodden was a charter member of The Rotary Club of Grand Cayman, later becoming president of the organization. He was also a member and past master of Cayman’s Masonic Lodge. 

Mr. Bodden also served on the Central Planning Authority Board and the Pines Retirement Home Committee. 

Rex Herbert Crighton, MBE 

Pioneering land developer and realtor Rex Crighton died on Sept. 14 at the age of 81. 

After going to sea for eight years, Mr. Crighton returned to Cayman and founded the real estate company Crighton Properties Ltd., which sold hundreds of millions of dollars’ worth of properties over the years. He was also one of the first Caymanian property developers, some in partnership with his childhood friend, James M. Bodden. Other business interests he was involved in over the years included Crewe Road Tile & Building Material, Caribbean Furniture Co., Caribbean Motors and Sun Isle Insurance Co. Mr. Crighton was a past president of the Rotary Club of Grand Cayman Central and was a founding member of the Cayman Islands Real Estate Brokers Association. Even in his later years, Mr. Crighton remained well known for the elaborate Christmas decorations that adorned his home and yard in Spotts. 

Perry Mathew George 

Dean of administration at the University College of the Cayman Islands, Perry George, passed away on April 29. He was 64. 

Mr. George, who was an economist, IT specialist and educator, joined UCCI, then called the Community College of the Cayman Islands, in 1996 as senior lecturer and head of the Computing Department. 

In 2000, he was promoted to associate professor and head of Arts and Sciences, where he was involved in the development of several associate and certificate programs as well as the establishment of a Student Counseling Department. 

He became the chair for the Council of Chairs in 2009 before being appointed dean of administration in 2011. 

Mr. George also served as First Vice President for the Association of Caribbean Tertiary Instituti
ons, council member of the University of the West Indies (Mona and Open Campus) and FCMI member of the Chartered Institute of Management. 

Dominica-born Mr. George was also a keen club cricketer around the Caribbean and in London. He represented the Cayman Islands at Masters level, a team for which he also served as the treasurer for a number of years. 

Mr. George was also a member of the West Indies Cricket Board and was appointed a special member of the Cricket governing body in 2013. 

Carl Christopher Godet,
Cert. Hon. 

Cayman Islands aviation and telecommunications pioneer Carl Godet died on May 11 at the age of 82. 

A native of Turks and Caicos where he started his career with Cable & Wireless, he later moved to Jamaica and worked as an aeronautical and telegraph operator with British aeronautical firm IAL. In 1952, IAL transferred Mr. Godet to Grand Cayman when the Owen Roberts International Airport opened, thus beginning a long career in telecommunications in the Cayman Islands. Over the years, he was involved in several businesses, including Aeradio Service Ltd., AVCOM and Godet and Sons Vending. 

In 2004, he received a Queen’s Certificate and Badge of Honor for his services to aviation in Cayman. 

Gladys Bravenec Howard, Cert. Hon. 

Little Cayman tourism pioneer Gladys Howard died in Texas on Oct. 3 at the age of 81. Born in Temple, Texas, Ms. Howard bought Pirate’s Point Resort in Little Cayman in 1986. The diving resort, which was also known for its fine dining, helped establish Little Cayman as a tourism destination. She was passionate about preserving Little Cayman’s environment through the National Trust, one of the reasons the National Trust renamed its Little Cayman building after her this year. She was also inducted as an honoree into the International Scuba Hall of Fame the day before her passing. 

Thomas ‘Tommy’ Ashbert Hurlston, MBE 

Prominent businessman Tommy Hurlston died on May 16. He was 88. 

Born in Nassau, Bahamas, in 1927, he and his parents came to South Sound, Grand Cayman, that same year. Like most other males of the era, Mr. Hurlston went to sea in 1946 and saw the world. Upon his return to Grand Cayman, he served as the general manager of the Texaco bulk storage. He later became involved in Ace U-Drive-It Cars and the Atlantic department store. 

Mr. Hurlston was instrumental in establishing the Lions Club in Cayman and served as its founding president. His association with that organization continued until his death. 

Julia Almeria Hydes, Cert. Hon. 

Cultural icon and Cayman Islands’ oldest resident, West Bayer “Aunt Julia” Hydes died on Nov. 30 at the age of 106. 

Born in 1909, Aunt Julia was an intuitive musician, best known as a drummer and songwriter. She was also known for her wisdom, passed on to friends and family, which included 35 great-grandchildren and 21 great-great-grandchildren. 

She was awarded the Queen’s Certificate and Badge of Honor in 1996 for her cultural contributions. 

Thomas Henry ‘Edlin’ Merren, OBE 

Dr. Edlin Merren died on Grand Cayman on April 28 at the age of 83. 

In addition to practicing as a dentist in the Cayman Islands for 45 years starting in 1960, Mr. Merren served on numerous government committees and boards, acting at different times as chairman of the Cayman Protection Board, the Central Planning Authority and the Medical and Dental Society. He was also a founding members of the National Trust for the Cayman Islands. He also did extensive missionary work to other Caribbean countries, including Jamaica and the Dominican Republic, and 12 mission trips to Haiti. 

Capt. Roberto ‘Bob’ Mark Bodden Soto, MBE 

A true legend in recreational scuba diving, Bob Soto died on Grand Cayman on March 17 at the age of 88. He opened one of the world’s first diving resorts in Grand Cayman in 1957. 

He was born in 1926 on the Isle of Pines, Cuba, to Daisy Bodden Driggers from Bodden Town, and Marcos Ramiro Soto Pantoja from Cuba. Mr. Soto’s mother returned home to Grand Cayman with him and his two brothers in 1928. 

Mr. Soto served in Cayman’s Home Guard as a 16-year-old during World War II, and was later introduced to the wonders of the underwater world as a hard-hat diver in the U.S. Navy. He was inducted into the International Scuba Hall of Fame in its inaugural year in 2000. 

Sibert Rudolph ‘Bert’ Watler, Cert. Hon. 

Cayman’s first full-time Legislative Assembly Serjeant-At-Arms Bert Watler died on Nov. 24 at the age of 96. 

The Bodden Towner was born in 1919 and served on a U.S. troop ship for three years during World War II. He later worked in the oil fields in Venezuela for 23 years before returning to Grand Cayman in 1969. He served as the House Serjeant-at-Arms from 1974 through 1986, when he left to establish a real estate business. 

Mr. Watler received a Certificate and Badge of Honor from Queen Elizabeth II in 1983 on her first official visit to the Cayman Islands for his efforts in setting up the “Mother Needs Your Help” fund to assist Britain during the Falklands Islands crisis in 1982. 

Julia Almeria Hydes, Cert. Hon. 

Cultural icon and Cayman Islands’ oldest resident, West Bayer “Aunt Julia” Hydes died on Nov. 30 at the age of 106. 

Born in 1909, Aunt Julia was an intuitive musician, best known as a drummer and songwriter. She was also known for her wisdom, passed on to friends and family, which included 35 great-grandchildren and 21 great-great-grandchildren. 

She was awarded the Queen’s Certificate and Badge of Honor in 1996 for her cultural contributions. 

Capt. Roberto ‘Bob’ Mark Bodden Soto, MBE 

A true legend in recreational scuba diving, Bob Soto died on Grand Cayman on March 17 at the age of 88. He opened one of the world’s first diving resorts in Grand Cayman in 1957. 

He was born in 1926 on the Isle of Pines, Cuba, to Daisy Bodden Driggers from Bodden Town, and Marcos Ramiro Soto Pantoja from Cuba. Mr. Soto’s mother returned home to Grand Cayman with him and his two brothers in 1928. 

Mr. Soto served in Cayman’s Home Guard as a 16-year-old during World War II, and was later introduced to the wonders of the underwater world as a hard-hat diver in the U.S. Navy. He was inducted into the International Scuba Hall of Fame in its inaugural year in 2000. 

Bob Soto

Bob Soto

Tommy Hurlston

Tommy Hurlston

Carl Godet

Carl Godet

Edlin Merren

Edlin Merren

Sonny Boy Bodden

Sonny Boy Bodden

Bert Watler

Bert Watler

Julia Hydes

Julia Hydes

Gladys Howard

Gladys Howard

Rex Crighton

Rex Crighton

Perry George

Perry George
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