Nell Connor will be fondly remembered for her joy of life and the happiness she brought to others. She loved to dance and her laugh was contagious.
Miss Nell, as she was known, passed away at her Breakers home on April 25. She was 96.
Dubbed the “Queen of Breakers,” Miss Nell, known by many in Grand Cayman and the community of Breakers, died six months short of her birthday.
She was a strong woman, proudly stating that she had never visited a doctor, and she began her days with a seaside stroll.
“Miss Nell was an icon and institution of Breakers and Cayman,” said Minister Osbourne Bodden, MLA for Bodden Town.
He said she provided postal services, offered craft products, good company and food to many over the years.
“She was the glue of the Breakers community where all met up and chatted, and she kept tabs on all goings-on. She was a very wise woman and always had sage advice. I will miss her greatly, and I pray that her soul finds eternal rest,” said Mr. Bodden.
Miss Nell died a few days after returning home from a short stay in the hospital.
“I knew she was failing from Sunday, but she was still eating and drinking and in good spirts,” her sister Eloise Seymour said.
“The passing of Miss Nell marks the end of another chapter of ‘the people Time Forgot,’” said Giuseppe Gatta, manager of the Lighthouse restaurant, adding that Miss Nell was very dear to him and his wife Susan. “We shared many birthdays with her, and the recipe of Miss Nell’s conch chowder is still on our menu to this very day and will remain forever.
“Breakers has lost the last pioneer and icon; it will never be the same. She was like the grandmother to me that I never met. May you rest in peace.”
Mr. Gatta said she would often tell him, “don’t cry when I’m gone; think of me and smile.”
Growing up in Breakers, Ms. Seymour said her sister had a happy-go-lucky childhood. She loved the ocean, fishing and dancing.
“My lips have never touched a drop of liquor,” she would say.
“Every night she would go dancing, from one end of the island to the other … she was called the Dance Hall Queen. She had a very happy life and enjoyed it too,” Ms. Seymour said.
When not taking care of her home or working, Miss Nell loved to dance in her front yard and when birthday celebrations came around. She was greatly admired in the community for her stamina, as she politely and gracefully invited visitors to join in the celebrations.
She had a very sharp tongue, and like most elderly Caymanians, never failed to tell it like it is, but also made people feel special and invited.
Miss Nell went to school in Bodden Town, but in her later years attended a little schoolhouse in Breakers. In her youth she assisted her mother, who was a midwife; she accompanied her brother to cut firewood and sewed clothes for herself and her siblings. “She never had any children of her own, but would baby-sit for others under the shade of a weeping willow tree in her front yard,” said her sister.
She married Earley Vibert Connor on April 4, 1946 and moved to Breakers from East End.
Her husband passed away Sept. 29, 2002.
Miss Nell was rarely alone. Family, friends, Lighthouse employees and tourists were often seen gathered in her yard. Her quaint home next to the parking lot of the Lighthouse restaurant was always a popular spot for tourists, who would stop by to buy her conch shells or handmade whisk brooms and baskets.
Miss Nell was appointed as postal agent for the Breakers post office in 1963, running it out of her home in Breakers for 35 years.
She retired in February 1999.
At her retirement party, she produced her original appointment letter for the job, which was dated May 25, 1963. She commented at the time, “There was no post office in Breakers, so I just took my house and did the job.” In all those years as postal agent, she would say she never made a mistake.
Miss Nell was an ardent churchgoer. In 2014, she received an award during the Heroes Day celebrations for her contributions to the promotion and preservation of the Cayman Islands’ cultural heritage prior to 1960.
When she was 94, Miss Nell slowed down a bit, no longer taking long walks along the beach or spending evenings fishing. But with her wits still about her, she would spend hours happily telling stories of her adventures of some 60-odd years ago.
Miss Nell is survived by sisters Margarett and Eloise, brothers Joseph and Lebert, and a host of family and friends.
The funeral service for Miss Nell will be announced at a later date.