Former Governor Russell was one of the best and most loved governors that the Cayman Islands have ever had.
Together with Capt. Charles Kirkconnell, Jim Bodden and Haig Bodden, we had the privilege of serving with him in Executive Council from 1976 to 1981 when he finished his second term as governor. These were critical years in Cayman’s early development of the offshore finance industry and tourism.
We then worked with him as the London Representative for another eight years, two terms, as ministers in government until the year 2000.
He was firm but fair with a good foresight for the future of these Islands. He had the understanding of small islands’ governments from his experience as financial secretary and chief secretary of the Solomon Islands and other posts.
As a team, we jointly steered Cayman and the government to a sound financial position and developing a world-renowned banking, financial and tourism center.
John’s first trip to New York was with Governor Russell and Mrs. Russell.
Governor Russell was very influential in promoting agriculture in Cayman and got Cayman into the U.K.’s Royal Show agricultural fair. He visited the districts often and, in all the districts, including East End, promoted infrastructure such as roads, schools, civic centers, the airport building and extending the runway.
Governor Russell led the team of George Smith and Truman when we appeared before the United Nations Special Committee on Decolonisation (the Committee of 24) on Sept. 13, 1977. On pages 8 to 17 of the U.N. committee minutes, we clearly stated that the Cayman Islands wished to remain a colony of the United Kingdom and that “economic independence,” not political independence (which has been a disaster in many Caribbean islands), is what Cayman is striving for. It was good to hear the premier make a similar statement recently.
Cayman has lost a great governor who was loved by Caymanians and who was a true ambassador of these Islands. We shall miss him.