A celebration of the life of David Jonathan Ebanks Sr. was held at the Craddock Ebanks Civic Centre in North Side on Saturday, Feb. 11, with Scripture readings and his eulogy, but mostly with music performed by family members and musician friends from around the island.
The following is from the eulogy read by Donovan Ebanks at the service.
David Jonathan Ebanks Sr., was born on Jan. 14, 1942, in West Bay, Grand Cayman. David was the eldest of four children born to the late Bertram and Alvernie Ebanks of North Side.
Reaching out for the right words to express thoughts about David, one remembers the many valued and meaningful roles that he portrayed throughout his life. He was a remarkable man in so many ways, respectful and caring at all times.
First and foremost, he was a family man. He loved his family profoundly. He was a devoted husband/son/father/uncle/brother and friend. David took all of the roles in his life to heart, and strove to honor, support, guide and most importantly, protect his family. He was at his happiest when he was surrounded by his family – even during those inevitably tough times. His devotion to his family was the foundation of his actions – the anchor that defined and shaped his life.
As we continue to turn the pages in David’s life, we see a man steadfast and unwilling to settle for less. He lived a principled life underpinned by a strong sense of right and wrong.
David attended school at the North Side Town Hall, where he reflected that the mosquitoes were so bad, he sometimes had to carry a smoke pan and often was forced to eat his lunch next to the edge of the sea. He was an excellent student, and like so many of his school peers, reached the top of the ladder in academics offered at that time, yet this did not deter him from higher achievements.
One of his favorite pastimes back then was going to Rum Point when they used to have strong North Easters. They would fish, cook and sleep until the next morning. Back then, there were only three pine trees at Rum Point in the 1950s. Somewhere during this early part of his life, he shares a fond memory of his Uncle Craddock hiring Cyril Rankine, fondly known as Old Sea, to take his family out to meet his father, who was passing on a ship on the North Coast of Cayman, en route to the United States. Old Sea held his sister Pat up so that their father, Bertram, could see her. At the time, she was about six weeks old. He remembers his father letting down a box of apples and grapes for them.
Here on this page of David’s life we see the making of a highly respected man. His first paying job, as he remembers, was cleaning the sides of the roads from The Hut to Grapetree Point to Old Man Bay.
From 1959 to 1961, the late Mr. Ralph Coatsworth at Rum Point gave him his first taste of “tourism.” Here, besides being the resident bartender, David’s duties included welcoming and entertaining guests, as well as lighting fires to cook for them on the beach. The guests were brought across the North Sound by Burns Rutty and Bob Soto. During this time, there were no roads, and as a result, he walked the beach to get to work.
During the next four years, like so many young Caymanian men, he took to the seas, starting on the M.V Oro Verde as an ordinary seaman, then being promoted to second mate and eventually chief mate.
He made more than 100 transits through the Panama Canal on to Ecuador, ports of origin being the Eastern Seaboard of the U.S.A. The Oro Verde is now a sunken dive site off Seven Mile Beach.
After his life at sea, he returned to work as a bartender at Rum Point Club, under the ownership of Bruce and Doris Parker. He then moved to work at Cayman Kai Resort as a bartender between 1971 and 1976.
In 1975, he was part of the original group that traveled to Chicago, starting an annual promotional package, started by the Dise family of developers, which came to be known as Cayman Night. This was later extended to Houston and other cities in Texas.
During this period, he continued to work for the Cayman Kai Development Company, clearing and selling lots. He would later become a night manager at Cayman Kai Resort for about two years.
From the beginning of 1980, David would once again reinvent himself as a contractor. From this point on to 2003, he kept busy with renovations and construction, rarely out of work. He was joined by his son, Jonathan and many other North Side men as part of his workforce.
He fiercely upheld the hiring of Caymanians, specially his North Side co-workers. Names that come to mind are, Ira, Jerry, Rodney, Johnny, Ollen, Olsen, Rollin, Glen, Alvin, Dewey, Charley, Linford, and many others.
His brother Paul was also his partner at various stages and shared many projects. In 1983, he accepted the challenge of disassembling an old Rum Point house, labelling it piece by piece and reconstructing it on another lot on Water Cay Road. The house is now known as Valhalla.
In 2004, David and wife Marge moved to Sarasota, Florida. David missed Grand Cayman and all of his family and friends but he found happiness by working at Publix for four years and taking cruises aboard the Regatta Ship.
He loved working in his yard and it was the best on the block. He also remodeled a neighbor’s house for her because she had stage 4 cancer.
David enjoyed going to Chicago to visit Marge’s family and friends and visiting California. One of his favorite things to do in Sarasota was to try every new restaurant as soon as it opened.
His wife Marge remembers David as the most productive person she ever met, and for him work was always enjoyable. David was always considerate, helpful, respectful to all people regardless of their station in life.
Marge would like to say a special thank you to her friend, Kathie Schoenleben, who has stood by her always, especially in the last month, and is forever grateful for her love, understanding and help.
Recognized on Heroes Day
David died on Jan. 17. On Heroes Day, Jan. 23, he was awarded a Memorial Scroll in recognition of his contributions to tourism.
We say so-long, David. You will be remembered through the many people left behind whose lives you touched so positively. You have left an amazing legacy behind, your loving and dedicated wife, Marge; two loving children, Jon and Emma, from a previous marriage; daughter-in-law, Cindy; son-in-law, Roger; 7 grandchildren, Jonelle, Jon-Mikol, Jordan, Justine, Jair, Kierstin and baby Liam, who preceded him in death; brothers, James and Paul; sister Pat; Uncle Lloyd and Aunt Jane and their families. He also leaves behind nieces, nephews, and a host of other relatives and friends.