Skilled woodworker and Compass correspondent remembered

Charles Faulkner “Charlie” Dixon will be remembered as a man “greatly respected” for his leadership and pleasant disposition to those who crossed his path.

Mr. Dixon, who would have been 91 on June 25, passed away at his home in East End on Jan. 13 after battling heart problems and cancer.

He was a skilled cabinetmaker and woodworking teacher at the Secondary Modern and Cayman High Schools for many years in the 1960s and 1970s, when vocational and trades classes formed part of the curriculum.

“‘Mr. Charlie’ as he was known to us students was greatly respected for his firm but fair approach to imparting his craft and his calm and pleasant demeanor,” said Kerith McCoy, who said many local cabinetmakers of his generation learned their craft from Mr. Charlie.

“Believe it or not, there are quite a few, some who still practice their small but seemingly quite lucrative trades. I’m sure there are many others, like myself, who appreciate his contributions every time we try to putter around the house with minor woodwork jobs,” he said.

In addition, he was the Caymanian Weekly’s East End correspondent in the 1960s. His ‘East End Echoes’ column appeared regularly in the paper summing up the goings-on in the community.

On Feb. 22, 1968, for example, he wrote: “The spell of the long drought was broken on the 19th with a few light showers of rain. Evelyn Mclaughlin and little daughter Stephanie arrived on the island from New York. Beltram Connor left on the 13th for Jamaica to seek medical aid. Mrs. Fuller arrived on the 13th from Jamaica to take her parents Mr. and Mrs. Allen McLaughlin to seek medical attention. Mr. Hutchings, Director of the Agriculture Department, and his members held a meeting in East End on the 19th.”

Information from a 2009 interview with the Compass, and Mr. Dixon’s obituary, which was read by MLA Alden McLean at his funeral, reveals that Mr. Dixon was born on June 25, 1926 in Kingston, Jamaica, to Captain George Dixon of East End, Grand Cayman and Gertrude Dixon nee Melville of St. Elizabeth, Jamaica.

Mr. Dixon lived in the village of East End most of his life after his mother, who was concerned he was not going the right way, sent him to Cayman to live with his aunt Ethlena and her husband McDonald McLean in 1954.

Mr. Dixon soon got involved in church life along with his uncle, and later on became a member of the Presbyterian Church of Jamaica and Grand Cayman.

After settling down, he concentrated on building a furniture business as a skilled cabinet maker. He negotiated an agreement with East End resident Warren Conolly to built a small workshop on Mr. Conolly’s property.

Mr. Dixon became well-known throughout the island. In the mid-1960s, after paying him a visit, the Administrator of the Cayman Islands Sir John A. Cumber arranged for Mr. Dixon to set up a woodworking unit and to teach his craft at the government’s Secondary Modern School, which was located off Eastern Avenue in George Town.

At the time Mr. Dixon told the Administrator he would be only too happy to assist. He taught students how to construct handy items while encouraging them to learn to read as well.

As a teacher, Mr. Dixon also got involved with East End students and youth, playing football and regularly assisting them with transportation and coaching.

He was conscious of fitness and health, and many will remember him jogging and exercising with his dumbbell weights along Sea View Road at East End High Rock.

After Mr. Dixon retired from teaching at the Cayman Islands High School, he started a woodwork shop at his home and continued furniture building and repairs.

Other than that he liked fishing and gardening, and thereby kept himself busy until the day of his passing.

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  1. Thanks to The Compass and reporter Jewel Levy for remembering and recognizing the contributions of the late Charles Dixon of East End. As we develop and expand as a society, despite efforts such as Government’s National Heroes Days Pioneer Awards, often some such pioneers may be forgotten or overlooked (I can’t recall if Mr. Dixon was included some years ago when teachers were honoured). Sometimes the people preparing such lists for recognition may not know about such persons, sometimes they don’t know who to ask, and only when such persons pass from our midst, do we recall that they were “someone important”.

    It behooves us to keep track of persons like Mr. Dixon, whose contributions impacted a few school generations, so that we may pay our respects while they are still able to appreciate same.

    An icon was also named in the article, Sir John Cumber, the visionary architect of Cayman’s development and modernization, whose contributions are truly fitting of National Hero status. To date, the only recognition to his contributions is the primary school which bears his name. However his true legacy covers the gamut from creation of MRCU (let’s not downplay its role in our development), creation of our financial industry, the implementation of the Cadastral Survey program which enabled our real estate industry, creation of the visionary direction policy which later became our far-reaching 1972 Development Plan, among many other achievements and contributions.

    It is ironic that one of our leaders whose efforts in dismantling that visionary 1972 Plan and perhaps reversing the program for orderly development in favour of the big “sell-out” is one of our National Heroes, while Sir John Cumber remains remembered simply as “an Administrator”.

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