Simultaneous memorial services were held in George Town, Grand Cayman, and Melrose, Scotland, at 8 a.m. Cayman time Thursday for former Governor Thomas Russell, who died last month at age 96.
The list of honorees attending the service in Cayman included Governor Helen Kilpatrick, Premier Alden McLaughlin, Opposition Leader McKeeva Bush, former Chief Secretary James Ryan, former Chief Secretary Lemuel Hurlston and Deputy Governor Franz Manderson. About 80 people turned up for the service.
“I remember him as a proud Caymanian,” Mr. Manderson said during the ceremony on the lawn of the Glass House Thursday morning. “He was a great chef who loved my mom’s lemon pies. He was a brave soldier and the fastest walker I have ever met.”
Premier McLaughlin and Mr. Ryan remembered Mr. Russell’s tenure as governor, between 1974 and 1981, as a key transitional period for the Cayman Islands, when Governor Russell helped guide the development of the territory’s growing financial services and tourism industries.
“Mr. Russell was a steadying influence and a source of sage advice … to set the stage for the thriving economy that we enjoy today,” Mr. Manderson said, reading from a letter his mother, Jenny, had written for the service. “He was very proud to be one of us.”
Governor Kilpatrick said Mr. Russell, Cayman’s third appointed governor, was a “model statesman” and set the standard, in many ways, for his successors.
“He was proof that empathy is no impediment to excellence,” Ms. Kilpatrick said. “The example Tom Russell set us illustrates the importance of kindness to our fellow men.”
“He was a good governor and a true friend and while we mourn his loss, we can also celebrate an extraordinary life well-lived,” Mr. Ryan said. “This country has lost a great friend.”
In Scotland, a military funeral for Mr. Russell, whose casket was draped in the U.K. flag, was held at 2 p.m. Scottish time. Among the 100 or so attendees there were Cayman Islands London Office director Eric Bush and local veteran Graham Walker on behalf of the Cayman Islands Veterans Association, which Mr. Russell helped found in 1978.
Mr. Russell served in the British military during World War II and was captured in street-fighting in Italy during 1944.
He was awarded the Order of the British Empire (1963), Commander of the British Empire (1970) and the Most Distinguished Order of St. Michael and St. George (1980). In 2012, Prince Philip appointed Mr. Russell as “vice president for life” of the Royal Commonwealth Ex-Services League.