Obituary: Dave Ranburn Christian

Feb. 9, 1934 – July 3, 2017

Dave Ranburn Christian was born on the 9th of February 1934, to Zacarias and Julia Christian of Rose Gardens, West Bay. He was the second of seven children and the only son of this union. His sister Kathleen died during infancy.

Mr. Christian attended school under the tutelage of Miss Winifred Evans from ages four to fourteen. He grew up attending the Pilgrim Holiness Church in West Bay and was active in the Sea Scouts.

At the age of 14, he built his first bicycle. On July 20, 1949, at the age of 15, he received his Seaman’s Certificate of Nationality. His first trade was repairing shoes, which he learned from his father Mr. Zackie, and he made his first pair of shoes at the age of 16. He also mastered barbering, which he also learned from Mr. Zackie. The first time that he went to the movies, he had to sail from West Bay to George Town in a catboat with Mr. Zackie, his cousin Alden Christian and Mr. Sam Bush.

Between the ages of 16 and 21, Mr. Christian trained in boxing with Egbert Walton. He played guitar with James Thomas, and he also played clarinet in a band with Joe Groves and Duggie (among others) at the Co-Op Hall in West Bay. He also earned a certificate in Electronics.

One day in 1952, he was walking past the house of Alice and Dodridge Bush. Their daughter Dorothy saw him and jokingly asked him if he wanted to take her to the movies. Much to her surprise, he said yes. He arrived at the house that evening to take her to the movies, thus starting their courtship. Two years later, in June of 1954, their first child, Dave, was born.

Mr. Christian began his career with National Bulk Carriers in February 1955 as a bedroom steward on the Tubman, a journey that lasted 20 months. During this time, he also worked as a food server. He was later promoted to second cook, and then promoted to chief cook. On Dec. 27, 1956 while on leave, Ranburn and Dorothy were united in marriage. Shortly afterward, Mr. Christian gave his heart to the Lord. He returned to work at sea.

After returning home, a second son, Dorian, came along in 1957. Dorothy raised Dave and Dorian and supervised the construction of their home in Rose Gardens while her husband was back at sea. After another leave from work at sea, a third son, Danston, followed in 1959. During the same year, his sister Julia Bodden passed away. Mr. Christian once again returned to sea.

In 1960 while on another leave, he began working in the construction industry at the Canning Factory where he was paid eight shillings per day. He often told the story of his first day there when he also got eight blisters on his hands. In 1961, Randy, the fourth son arrived. Mr. Christian returned to sea.

In 1964, after returning from his final assignment at sea, he resumed his work in construction. Then one year later, a fifth son, Timothy, was born. Finally in 1967, after trying for so long, the Christians got the baby girl they so desired – baby Darlene. However, this proved to be one of their most difficult times, as she passed away after just nine days. Needless to say, they were both heartbroken. But God saw their utmost desire and, some 18 months later, they were blessed with another baby girl. Mr. Christian named her Mona Liza.

In the early 1970s, Mr. Christian joined with Tommie Bodden and Jimmy Powell to form Ranja Construction. He and Dorothy also operated a cement mixer rental business. In May of 1975, they moved into their house on Batabano Road, the house which Mr. Christian himself drew the plans for and built and lived in until the day of his passing.

After Ranja Construction ceased operation, he worked for Cayman Contractors on numerous condominium projects along Seven Mile Beach and on residential projects in every district on Grand Cayman. He also co-owned a backhoe service with his brother-in-law and best friend Denby Groves.

After retiring from the condominium projects, Mr. Christian worked for his brother-in-law Allan Bush on the first phase of Paddington Place. Then he worked for John Ebanks of Philson’s Construction on a housing project in South Sound. In May of 2003, he was awarded a Lifetime Achievement Award by HRH Prince Edward for his contribution to the construction industry.

In 2006, in honor of their parents’ 50th anniversary, Liza and her son Daniel treated the happy couple to a trip to New York City. This was the last of their many family trips together. They were also treated to a Golden Anniversary celebration which was held at The Wharf Restaurant.

Work-wise, Mr. Christian was notably happiest when he was working alongside his eldest son Dave on countless housing projects, mostly supervising in the later years when his legs became weak and his hearing became worse. After being in the construction industry for 47 years, he fully retired after they completed Liza’s house in 2007.

Tragedy struck Mr. Christian’s family twice in 2009. In July, his brother-in-law and best friend Denby Groves passed away after a long and harrowing battle with cancer. And on the 3rd of November, Dorothy, his beloved wife of almost 53 years, passed away following a brief but agonizing battle with colon cancer.

In May of 2012, Mr. Christian was awarded the Medal of Honour Commander (CMH) for outstanding and important services to the Cayman Islands, by Premier W. McKeeva Bush.

Mr. Christian’s family was again struck by tragedy in August 2015 when they learned that his youngest son Timothy, at age 50, was diagnosed with renal carcinoma. After an excruciating battle, Timothy passed away on April 7, 2016.

In October of 2016, Mr. Christian was hospitalized for the first time in his life. After a couple of days of testing and observation, he was anxious to get back to his beloved home. Although he was heartbroken for the past eight years, he always kept himself busy by doing yard work and miscellaneous repairs around the house.

He often visited his special friend Mrs. Olga (Toy) Ryan. He also enjoyed his weekly Bible Study with members of the Jehovah Witnesses and the George Town Seventh-day Adventist Church. And every Saturday, his children would take turns driving him to Foster’s Republix so that he could see his other friends.

Mr. Christian had not been seriously sick, so the news of his death was a shock to the entire family. He passed away suddenly on Monday, July 3, 2017, at the age of 83 years, 4 months and 24 days. He was preceded, in order of death, by his sisters Kathleen and Julia; daughter Darlene; grandfather Pharan; parents Zacarias and Julia; best friend Denby, beloved wife Dorothy and son Timothy.

Left to mourn his passing are sons Dave, Dorian, Danston and Randy; daughter Liza; daughters-in-law Alice, Beulah, Olivene, Jennifer and Carlita; son-in-law Clinton Mohammed; grandchildren Tina, Ranburn, Daniel, Oshane, Liam, Madison and Mason; granddaughter-in-law Kim; great-grandchildren Michael, David, Cadence and Serenity; adopted grandchildren Matthias, Andrew and Abigail; sisters Elva Evans, Naomi Trahan, Joan Bonner and Catherine Ebanks; sisters-in-law Susy Brown, Marjorie Rivers, Marie Groves, Goldie Panton, Esmae Wright, Gloria Crowe and Jewel Bush; brothers-in-law Allan Bush, Dicky Brown Sr., Enon Evans, Rolston Rivers and Canell Wright; special friends Robert Harris and Olga “Toy” Ryan; cousins, nieces and nephews, other special friends and a host of other relatives and friends.

Mr. Christian was a jack-of-all-trades and master of many. His legacy as a quiet but strong man who led by example and earned his respect will forever live on in each of us.

Submitted by daughter Mona Liza Christian Mohammed.

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  1. I known Mr Christian and worked with him and was a personal friend , found him to be one of most sincerely man I know . We have lost another great man . My condolences to all the family , may he rest in heaven .