John Lemuel Hurlston releases memoir: ‘A Life That Counts’

Former chief secretary and deputy governor recounts local history through his own eyes

'A Life That Counts' is already available for purchase online and will be in local bookstores on June 10.
‘A Life That Counts’ is already available for purchase online and will be in local bookstores on June 10.

Part autobiography, history tome and political memoir, “A Life That Counts” by first-time author, former Chief Secretary and former Deputy Governor John Lemuel Hurlston will be available from Book Nook and Books & Books from June 10. The book launch will take place at 6 p.m. on June 9 at the Harquail Theatre.

The life of the author in the islands

Already available through, Barnes and Noble, and Anchor Distributors, the 221-page tome, with a foreword by former Governor Alan Scott, delves into family history and the character of the islands and charts Cayman’s meteoric rise as a first-class tourism and finance destination through Mr. Hurlston’s eyes.

The rapid and upward ascendency of the islands, as retold by Mr. Hurlston, is in many ways mirrored in the life of the author, who rose from humble beginnings to become one of the islands’ most preeminent government figures of his day.

With his youth spent in Jamaica and the Cayman Islands, Mr. Hurlston’s formative years were rooted in his family and his faith, both of which influenced his life, shaped his career and greatly impacted the lives of ordinary Caymanians.

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Explaining how his 26-year civil service career began, the author said, “Mr. Johnson, later Sir Vassel, sent back a message to invite me to come and see him on my arrival. I did, and was offered an immediate opportunity to start in the civil service as a temporary clerk, which I did on July 8, 1968. The starting salary was 34 pounds per month. Humble beginnings can open the door for success ….”

When asked what prompted him to put pen to paper, Mr. Hurlston said, “I initially began to write to leave a story for my family (grandchildren especially) to have access to for posterity, and subsequently asked a few friends to read the manuscript and received encouragement to consider publishing … I decided that 21 years after retirement was a reasonable time to begin the book.”

During his tenure, memorable incidents on the world stage, which ultimately affected Cayman, included “the global recession of 1975-76 and the stock market correction of 1987.”

A remarkable career

A reformer of strong Christian ethics, he acknowledges that his strides in life never came easily to him, but were achieved through faith and hard work.

One imagines he must have needed both of these virtues to work with no less than six governors during his long career: Athelstan Long (1971–1972), Kenneth Crook (1972–1974), Thomas Russell (1974 – 1981), George Lloyd (1982 – 1987), Alan Scott (1987 – 1992) and Michael Gore (1992 – 1995).

He revealed that the bulk of the writing was completed in four months in 2014. In terms of the writing process, once under way, he said, “The most satisfying aspect has been to appreciate the many areas of public service I was privileged to undertake and still undertake.”

“The most arduous part [of writing the book] was trying to link the stories together in some coherent fashion,” he added.

Mr. Hurlston, who does not see another book writing venture in the near future, when reflecting on his life, mentioned his career highlights as including having helped organize the last visit to the Cayman Islands by Queen Elizabeth II in 1994 and spearheading one of the earliest of the islands’ personnel reform initiatives.

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