Businessman Kent Rankin passed away Monday evening at his home in Bodden Town after battling cancer for two years. He was 71 years old.
Mr. Rankin, known to many as “Biggie,” was a successful self-made businessman and also a farmer, and was frequently recognized for his contributions to the Cayman Islands.
“The government of the Cayman Islands regrets to learn of the passing of Mr. Kent Rankin,” Premier Alden McLaughlin said in a statement Tuesday.
“Biggie, as he was known to us, was a giant of a man in business, playing a huge role in the Paramount Group of companies, construction and farming in the Cayman Islands. There are many Caymanians who can credit Mr. Rankin with helping them get their starts in their careers.”
From humble beginnings, Mr. Rankin founded the multi-industry Paramount Group more than 40 years ago, starting with a small hardware store. Over the years the Paramount Group became one of the largest family conglomerates in the Cayman Islands.
The group’s entities range from construction, marine retail, media and aviation, to energy, agriculture, education, shipping and financial and professional services.
Mr. Rankin launched his first company in 1967, selling carpet and vinyl at Paramount Carpets. Over the years the company diversified and now includes Paramount Media and its two radio stations (Vibe 98.9 and Spin 94.9 FM), Monster Media, Rankin’s Farm, Rankin’s Jerk Centre, Tech Marine Cayman, Supermix Concrete, The Achievement Centre, Phoenix Health Services, MoneyGram, and more.
“We have grown organically, really,” Mr. Rankin said in a 2014 Paramount Group prospectus. “As members of the community ourselves, when we see an opportunity for fair trade that benefits the country we do our best to provide it in an accessible way.”
In 2012, Mr. Rankin was awarded the Order of the Cayman Islands at the grade of Commander (CMH). The award recognizes individuals who have rendered “eminent service of national importance to the islands.
Mr. Rankin also had a deep love for the land and was passionate about agriculture. He lived on his farm of more than 60 acres, and although farming began as his hobby, he turned it into a successful business.
The Rankin farm raises livestock sold through Rankin’s Butcher Shop and supplies produce to local supermarkets. Mr. Rankin received many accolades for his contributions to agriculture, including “Farmer of the Year” at the annual agriculture show, an honor he received several times, and trophies for livestock farming, crop farming, and exhibiting pigs.
On Tuesday, Mr. Rankin was also remembered by Opposition Leader McKeeva Bush in a tribute on Mr. Bush’s Facebook page.
“Today we mourn the passing of Mr. Kent (Biggie) Rankin who was a lot of things to many people. To me, he was not only a treasured friend, he was a force of intellectual insight that I looked to for sound advice. He would tell me exactly what he thought and I treasured our discussions.”
Mr. Bush said that over the years he watched as Mr. Rankin defied “all odds,” using “the power of observation and his brilliant mind to become a very successful businessman.”
“He knew how to make brilliant business decisions and was able to employ many good people and residents of these islands,” Mr. Bush said. “His business savvy allowed him to educate and employ the majority of his children who have become successful business persons in their own right.
Biggie was a man of very many talents and he provided a security net for many, extended family, friends and so on, even if it meant sharing his infinite wisdom or in some other way. You could always count on him and if he gave you his word, he would be there until the end with you.”
Mr. Bush said he most admired what Mr. Rankin built with his wife and family. “They are the true empire that was built and he loved them dearly,” Mr. Bush said. “I wish my friend peace in the arms of the Lord. His legacy will forever live through the empire he built with Mrs. Ruth Rankin in the form of their beloved children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren and that is how success is truly measured.”
Bodden Town MLA Osbourne Bodden described Mr. Rankin as an “entrepreneur extraordinaire.” He added, “He has built a family empire with many different facets of business that worked well in the hands of his many sons. His large family served him well and he led by example, and I’m sure helped many along the way. I can think of many Caymanians who ply their trade after being employed by Biggie.”
In addition to his wife Ruth, Mr. Rankin is survived by eight children, Gary, David, Kenny, Paul, Albert, Sophia, Haymond and Kendra, 16 grandchildren and two great-grandchildren.
In lieu of flowers, the family suggests donations to Cayman HospiceCare and/or the Cayman Islands Cancer Society.