In memoriam: Obituaries of 2016

Thomas Ewart Ebanks
Jamal Young

Jamal Young

Jamal Young, 45, passed away in Rochester, New York, on Jan. 19.

An attorney in Cayman, he practiced internationally. He was completing studies for his master’s degree at Colgate Rochester Crozer Divinity School.

He was remembered fondly by members of the Cayman’s Flag Football Association who saluted his participation as a player and as a coach, working especially with the young people. He served multiple years on the association’s committee and also served for a time as president.

Mr. Young’s family includes a daughter in Grand Cayman.

Vinola Ebanks

Thatch artisan Ethel Vinola Ebanks will be remembered for her spirit of dancing and the preservation of Caymanian cultural heritage.

Miss Vinola, 86, died on Jan. 27.

She learned thatch work growing up in West Bay. On Heritage Days in Cayman Brac, she could be seen plaiting, thatching and displaying her works.

Vinola Ebanks

She moved to the Brac in 1946 and worked at the Buccaneer Inn and the Brac Reef Hotel, and she worked in Little Cayman in the 1960s.

She was recognized as an Ambassador of Tourism in 1994 and received the Cayman National Cultural Foundation Certificate of Creativity in 2013.

Miss Vinola married Brac resident Charles Alson Ebanks in 1947. He passed away in October 2008. The couple had nine children.

Kent Rankin

Kent Rankin

Kent Rankin passed away on March 28 at his home in Bodden Town after battling cancer for two years. He was 71.

Known to many as “Biggie,” he was a self-made businessman and a farmer.

He launched his first company in 1967, selling carpet and vinyl at Paramount Carpets. Over the years the company diversified to include 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.

In 2012, Mr. Rankin was awarded the Order of the Cayman Islands at the grade of Commander and was named Farmer of the Year several times.

He is survived by his wife, Ruth, eight children and their families.

Claudia Ryan

Claudia Louise Ryan passed away on April 4 at age 99, surrounded by family at Faith Hospital. She is remembered for her dedication and generosity to the church.

Mrs. Ryan bought land several years ago for the new sanctuary at the Stake Bay church and donated the property to the church. “She was afraid she wouldn’t get to see the new church finished,” her son James said. But she did live to see the new sanctuary completed and had the opportunity to worship there. She also donated land for a parsonage to the Little Cayman Baptist Church.

Mrs. Ryan, nee Bodden, was born on Little Cayman on July 29, 1917. In 1938, she married James A. Ryan of Cayman Brac and moved to the larger island. Her husband died in 2007. Mrs. Ryan is survived by two sons and a daughter.

Claudia Ryan

Faith Bush-Ebanks

Cayman Islands Opposition Leader McKeeva Bush’s mother, Faith Muriel Bush-Ebanks, died on April 10 following a long illness. She was 92.

Mr. Bush, who became Cayman’s first premier under the 2009 Constitution Order, said his mother and stepfather raised him in the late 1950s to early 1960s when times were much leaner and the British territory struggled with a population of fewer than 10,000. To make ends meet and help feed her family, Mrs. Bush-Ebanks worked as a housekeeper for the Farrington family and its patriarch, William “Willie” Farrington. In the mid-1960s as the tourism industry began to develop, she took various jobs at Cayman hotels, often working two shifts a day.

“She was very independent, a very hardworking woman,” Mr. Bush said. “She would get up at 4 a.m., do her housework, then go to work and work two jobs.”

She worked in the hotel industry until the early 1990s when a heart ailment and back surgery forced her to retire. Mr. Bush said she was wheelchair-bound since the mid-1990s because of health difficulties.

Mrs. Bush-Ebanks is survived by two sons and four daughters.

John Shaw

John Shaw

High school student and Cadet Corps member John Shaw passed away April 16 from an asthma attack on Seven Mile Public Beach. He was 16.

He was known to his family, teachers and at the Cadet Corps as shy, friendly, funny and dependable. He wanted to be a pilot and had a bright future ahead of him, family members said.

He had hoped to go to Cayman Airways for work experience once he finished at John Gray High School.

He had been with the Cadet Corps the morning before his death, volunteering with the cleanup project for Earth Day. His commander said John mentored younger cadets and was always willing to help out.

Eve Flowers

Eve Flowers

Eve Flowers, community volunteer and organizer of the popular Flowers Sea Swim, passed away on April 20 after a year-long battle with leukemia. She was 62.

A community mom for many kids after school, she became a lead facilitator of the Youth 2 Youth program, an initiative aimed at keeping students from using drugs. She continued to volunteer even after her children graduated. She was also a board member of Cayman Against Substance Abuse. As a board member at the Library Redevelopment Committee in George Town, she raised money to help build a new library.

While her children were still in grade school, Mrs. Flowers continued to support the family business by organizing the Flowers Sea Swim, the annual open-water charity swim. She was also an avid property developer and landlord for several apartment buildings.

Mrs. Flowers was an active member of the Church of God (Universal), hosting events and visiting members during conventions. She is survived by her husband, Frank, two children and three grandchildren.

Maureen Andersen Berry

Artist and teacher Maureen Andersen was born in Derby, England. She began her formal art training at the Slade School of Fine Art in London and received her art teacher’s diploma from the Art Institute of Education, also in London. She made her way to Cayman to be a school teacher in 1976.

“I had been to Cayman and the Sister Islands before that and found they were all lovely in a different way,” she said in an interview earlier this year.

She taught at John Gray High School and was head of the art department at the middle school. She also taught at Cayman Brac High School before retiring in 1991 at age 60. Since that time she painted and drew the landscapes of faraway places, but her main love was for the Brac. She opened a gallery there before moving back to Grand Cayman, where she opened a little studio in West Bay called Galleria Marianne for her oil and watercolor paintings. Her paintings can also be found in the permanent collection of the National Gallery of the Cayman Islands.

Mrs. Berry died on May 13 at age 87. She is survived by a son in Grand Cayman and a daughter in England.

Cline Glidden

Cline Glidden Sr.

Cline Glidden Sr., a merchant marine for more than 40 years, and who served as Serjeant at Arms of the Legislative Assembly for 15 years, passed away on June 27 at his home in West Bay. He was 91.

He was the longest serving Serjeant at Arms for the Legislative Assembly, supervising security, order and ceremony in the House from 1987 to 2002. Notable events during that time were the visit of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II in 1994, and the swearing-in of his son, Cline Jr., as an MLA.

Before his service in the House, he spent 42 years as a merchant marine, attaining a master mariner certificate that licensed him to captain ships of any tonnage.

In addition to his son and family, Mr. Glidden is survived by his wife Eula.

Joris Poldervaart

Joris Poldervaart

Joris Poldervaart was born on Sept. 24, 1929, in Vlaardingen, Holland. After World War II, he went to sea, eventually working on ships in the company of Bergman Dilbert, a Caymanian, when both sailed on the Bay Line ships out of Miami. On a trip to Kingston, Jamaica, he was introduced to Pauline Ritch through Mr. Dilbert.

Joris and Pauline married and then lived in Nassau, Bahamas, until they moved to Cayman in 1969. He pioneered retail sporting goods in the Cayman Islands and established the store known as Sportsland in Grand Cayman in 1971.

He introduced martial arts to the Cayman Islands, starting a karate school and bringing in the art of tae kwon do. He served the community as a volunteer with the Cayman Islands Red Cross and as a special constable. After he and his wife moved to Cayman Brac, he was an active member of the Veterans and Seamen’s Society there.

Mr. Poldevaart died June 28 at the age of 86. He is survived by his wife, a daughter and his extended family.

Yves-Jacques Rey-Millet

Yves-Jacques Rey-Millet

Photographer Yves-Jacques Rey-Millet passed away on June 30 at the age of 70.

Born of French parents, he was schooled in Switzerland and adopted Swiss nationality. Yves-Jacques and his first wife, Ann-Marie, came to Cayman in the mid-1970s and built a house at Bat’s Cave in Cayman Brac.

In 1982, Governor Peter Lloyd introduced him to Patricia Bradley and suggested their collaboration on a Cayman bird book. It led to the first photographic field guide for birds. Illustrated with photographs rather than drawings and paintings, the book set a precedent and is now part of an international series published by Bloomsbury. At the time of his death, he and Mrs. Bradley were working on a book of Cuban birds with Arturo Kirkconnell. His collaborators have promised to finish it in his memory.

Mr. Rey-Millet is survived by his wife Alexandra and a son.

Thomas Ewart Ebanks

Thomas Russell

Thomas Russell, who served as Cayman’s third governor, between 1974 and 1981, died on July 4 in Scotland. He was 96.

Mr. Russell, widely acknowledged as one of Cayman’s most respected governors, also served as Cayman’s territorial representative in the U.K. after his term in the governor’s office ended. He served as Cayman’s representative in London between 1982 and 2000, helping establish what is today the Cayman Islands London Office. He also founded the Cayman Islands Veterans Association.

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.

Mr. Russell’s term as governor was extended three times, and eventually led to his serving seven years in office. He was Cayman’s longest-serving governor.

Mary McCoy

Mary Delrose McCoy, nee Scott, was born on Aug. 18, 1936. She attended school in Spot Bay, Cayman Brac, and helped her mother care for her younger siblings. She was an active member of the church where her father was pastor.

Mary married Samson Sylvester McCoy of Cayman Brac in 1956. After the fourth of their six children was born, Mr. McCoy decided to settle from his life as a seaman. He was offered a job in Little Cayman and Miss Mary, as she was known, remained in Cayman Brac while the children attended school.

The McCoy family was active in the establishment of Pirate’s Point Resort after Sam had a stint at the Southern Cross Club, and in 1983 they established Sam McCoy’s Fishing & Diving Lodge, now known as McCoy’s Lodge.

Mary and Sam worked side by side, and McCoy’s Lodge became known for its delivery of Caymanian service to locals, fishermen and divers from all around the world, and a place where you could buy propane, gasoline and diesel. Mary was the primary chef, as well as accommodations operator, bookkeeper, concierge and island tour guide.

Mary loved music and played several instruments, including guitar, accordion, piano, organ and horn. She was known for always being perfectly groomed and dressed for any occasion, with matching jewelry, styled black hair and fashionable makeup.

A widow for six years, Miss Mary died on Sept. 13. She is survived by her children and their families.

Thomas Ewart Ebanks

Thomas Ewart Ebanks was born in West Bay on Aug. 28, 1920. He attended the all-age school in Boatswains Bay until he was 13. On completion of his schooling, he went to the Mosquito Cays to catch turtles and for shark fishing for the shark-skin trade with the United States. In between those trips, he was farming. When World War II began, he signed up as a member of the Cayman contingent and joined the Trinidad Royal Naval Volunteer Reserve. He was a member of a regiment repairing ships and was then assigned to a patrol vessel looking for enemy submarines. He also served on a minesweeper and on a rescue tug.

After the war he returned home and started to do construction work, but then traveled to the United States and was hired by the Suwannee Shipping Co., working on their ships until November 1948. He later worked for two other shipping companies.

On Dec. 27, 1949, he married Edith Orrett; they had four daughters and three sons, one of whom predeceased him.

In 1958, he ended his seaman’s career and went into construction. From his skilled carpentry, he enjoyed making replica schooners. He was also a barber with a dedicated clientele and continued to cut hair until he was 95.

Mr. Ewart was an active member of the Cayman Islands Veterans Association. On Heroes Day, Jan. 24, 2011, he and other surviving veterans of World War II were given the most prestigious “Commander, Medal of Honour” Award.

He died on Sept. 14 at age 96. He is survived by his wife, children and their families.

Martin Winston Bodden Sr.

Martin Winston Bodden Sr. was born on Sept. 23, 1930. He went to sea with National Bulk Carriers at an early age.

After ending his seafarer’s life, he joined the Fire Services Department in 1960 and served in Cayman Brac as Senior Fire Officer from 1974 to 1976. He retired after 26 years and was hired at the Civil Aviation Department as airport maintenance officer with responsibility for all the airport grounds and buildings. He was a Special Constable with the Royal Cayman Islands Police Service for more than 20 years.

Following his retirement, he worked at the Tower Building as a security officer and later continued at the Glass House; his second retirement was in 1995. In 2002 he was hired for customer service support at A. L. Thompson’s on North Sound Way and later at the Countryside branch in Savannah. His final retirement was in 2008 when he was 78. Mr. Bodden passed away on Oct. 17 at 86 years of age.

He is survived by his wife of 64 years, Marjorie Mae, six sons, three daughters and their families.

Vernon Jackson

Vernon L. Jackson

Vernon L. Jackson, marriage officer, educator and longtime civil servant, passed away on Oct. 23. He was 87.

Born on Dec. 18, 1928, he embraced education as he grew up, going to college at a time when most boys left school at 14. In 1945, he went to the Mico Training College in Jamaica to study to become a teacher. He returned in 1948 and was posted to the West Bay Primary School as assistant head teacher under Beulah Smith.

In 1951, while teaching in West Bay, he met and married another Bodden Towner, Francine. In 1953, the couple moved their family back to Bodden Town, where Mr. Jackson served as headmaster until 1964, when he succeeded Clifton Hunter as director of education. Mr. Jackson held several positions in the civil service and also served as administrative secretary for Education and Social Services. He oversaw the transition of secondary education from the Presbyterian Church to government and the introduction of comprehensive education. At one stage he was supervisor of elections.

When the family moved back to West Bay in 1968, he became involved in community and church activities and served as a lay preacher. He received a Lifetime Achievement Award from the United Church of Jamaica and Grand Cayman.

Mr. Jackson was a charter member and past president of the original Rotary Club; one of the founding members and president of the Gun Club; and served on the Parole Board for 17 years. He was awarded the OBE for services to his community in 1984.

After retiring from the civil service, he became a marriage officer and co-founded Cayman Weddings, performing more than 4,500 wedding ceremonies over 30 years.

Mr. Jackson is survived by his wife, two daughters, a son, and their families.

Mike Brown

Michael A. “Mike” Brown

Businessman Mike Brown passed away on Dec. 17 at age 68. Mr. Brown had been ill for some time, but the night before he died he spent happily at a family gathering, relatives reported. Mr. Brown came to Cayman from Jamaica in 1972 and started Mike’s Ice, the island’s first ice plant, that same year. He built the Mirco Center on North Sound Road in 2001, moving Mike’s Ice and Refrigeration there and renting out other units. He was also proprietor of two gas stations and co-founder of Island Waste Carriers.

He is survived by his wife, Joanne, a son, two daughters and their families.

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