Bodden Town has dedicated its library to Vernon Jackson for his outstanding service to education, government, Christian faith and community service.
A Bodden Town native, Mr. Jackson, 87, grew up in a home in the shadow of the Bodden Town All-Age School, the building which then became the Town Hall and is now the Bodden Town Library. For the community and those at the renaming ceremony on Saturday, the consensus was that, after 10 years as the school’s headmaster, it was only fitting it bear his name.
A plaque was also unveiled which bears the name Vernon L. Jackson Public Library and Learning Centre. The unveiling was attended by Mr. Jackson’s family, including some visiting from overseas, library and government officials and invited guests.
Mr. Jackson said he was glad to see so many people there and remembered that reading was commonplace when he was a child.
“I did not know where the books came from, but they went from house to house … we were all poor and if one happened to have a lesson book, it was shared,” he said.
He also reminisced about the 1932 storm and the construction of the library building.
“The smart boys binding it together were getting three pence for a barrel of sand to build it – and the men would get paid for their barrels too,” he said.
According to the Cayman National Archives, in his address at the building’s opening, Commissioner Allen Wolsey Cardinall described the building as a place of refuge, an Assembly Hall and a school, with the building being large enough to cater to 625 people. The architect was Rayal Brazel Sr. and the engineer was Edmund Samuel Parsons.
At Saturday’s ceremony, Mr. Jackson’s daughter, Joy Basdeo, gave a glimpse into the history of her father.
“My father is an enigma – a man before his time and also a man of his time – a gentle man and a gentleman. These gentlemanly qualities more than anything else made him beloved throughout the Cayman Islands and will ensure he is remembered long after his other accomplishments have been forgotten,” she said.
His son Andre said his fondest memories growing up with his dad were the countless fishing trips they had together, his excellent advice, never hearing him swear or lose his cool, and that he was seldom angry or involved in an argument with anyone, and as a marriage officer, had never been involved in any deeds or acts that were not above board.
“As the old people would say, ‘That’s man,’” said the younger Mr. Jackson.
Minister of Education Tara Rivers said it gave her great pleasure to be there to honor Mr. Jackson for his remarkable achievements in the districts of Bodden Town and West Bay and also the Cayman Islands.
“His passion for education and his commitment to the art of learning has really inspired countless Caymanians to expand their world view, stretch their imagination beyond these shores and further their academic development.”
Ms. Rivers said she certainly considered herself one of those Caymanians inspired by Mr. Jackson’s story – for this reason she thought it most fitting to recognize his contributions by renaming the Bodden Town library after him.
“Mr. Jackson’s legacy will forever be etched on the institution of learning and enlightenment, and as a government we are grateful to Mr. Vernon for the foundation he has helped to lay in the areas of social services, education communication, infrastructure and human resources,” Ms. Rivers said.