Businessman and community leader Derrington ‘Bo’ Miller listens with his grandson, Harrison Miller, during the dedication of a North Side public beach that will bear his name.

Derrington “Bo” Miller was honored in a bittersweet ceremony Saturday evening, when a small public beach in the North Side district was dedicated in his name.

Over 100 people attended the groundbreaking ceremony for the Bo Miller Public Beach. But the event was more a celebration of Mr. Miller’s life than photo opportunity for local leaders. A well-known businessman and community leader, Mr. Miller has been fighting cancer in recent months and is in poor health. He attended the event in a wheelchair.

“This beach is part of your honor,” said Christen Suckoo, chief officer for the Ministry of Education. “We, sir, are your lasting legacy.”

In his remarks, Mr. Miller said he was pleased that the longtime project was reaching fruition. The land that was acquired for the beach – on Old Robin Road just east of Frank Sound Road – belonged to the Miller family for many years, he told the crowd, serving as the site where his forefathers built ships.

“The Millers go back here to the 1700s,” he said. “My father sailed from here at 16 years old and delivered a schooner to Belize. They did it in two days. Those boats were fast.”

They were fast enough to outrun the authorities, Mr. Miller added with a grin.

The family eventually sold the land to a local church. But a few years ago, it was back on the market. Mr. Miller saw it as an opportunity to turn the property into a public beach he’d envisioned for many decades.

“He’s been talking about this idea for 18 to 20 years,” said Mr. Miller’s son Justin.

North Side MLA Ezzard Miller said it seemed a natural fit to recognize the man who pushed the project forward.

“We decided to put Bo’s name on it, since he laid the groundwork,” Ezzard Miller said.

The property also includes a small Miller family cemetery. Plans call for a paved parking area next to the cemetery and a series of cabanas along a pathway to the beach.

“We would like to include a small maritime museum,” Ezzard Miller said, which would stand between the parking lot and the first of the cabanas. “We’ll probably start having fundraisers for that.”

Debra Broderick, chair of the North Side District Council, said there is still much to be done to complete Bo Miller’s vision.

Derrington ‘Bo’ Miller, seated on left, was honored Saturday at a groundbreaking ceremony. – Photo: Mark Muckenfuss

“I would like us to be as determined as Bo and see this to the end,” Ms. Broderick told the crowd. “Just imagine this as a first-class beach site where you and your children can come and enjoy it.

“You have done us proud, Bo,” she added. “We, in turn, plan to make you proud of us.”

While never elected as a public official – he ran twice for the Legislative Assembly – Bo Miller was well-known and active in political circles. He was also an entrepreneur and businessman and said he participated in every kind of business Cayman had to offer, from finance to real estate investment to retail.

He also championed protection of the local environment. As a George Town candidate in the 2013 parliamentary elections, he promoted the establishment of an environmental protection agency. In 1980, he founded the Caymanian Businessmen Association, the island’s first think tank.

“He had an opinion and ideas about almost every national issue,” said Minister of Finance Roy McTaggart, who assisted in the groundbreaking. “You could always count on him to engage.”

Mr. McTaggart said he could not think of a more fitting name for the beach.

“Bo deserves every bit of recognition this gives to him,” he said. “This is a very fitting way to honor him.”

Bo Miller said he is glad to see the land that once belonged to his family serving the community.

“I’ve been living here and helping people all my life,” he said. “This is our roots. I’m so glad we were able to preserve a piece of it.”