Tributes have been paid to a “Caymanian patriot” following the death of Derrington “Bo” Miller Sunday after a long battle with cancer. He was 66.
Mr. Miller ran for office on three occasions, twice in North Side and once in George Town, as an independent candidate and was instrumental in the grassroots campaign for a “one man, one vote” system, which was introduced at the last general election in 2017.
He was also an influential advocate for the North Side community, where he grew up, and a widely respected businessman who was hailed as a pioneer of Cayman’s tourism industry.
Politicians on both sides paid tribute to Mr. Miller for his contributions to the development of the country and his unwavering commitment to the Cayman Islands.
His death comes just two weeks after family, friends and community leaders gathered in North Side to dedicate a new public beach in his honor.
Close family friend Donovan Ebanks, who first met Mr. Miller when they attended North Side Primary School together, said his friend’s campaign to open the beach for the public epitomized his “can do” spirit.
“For him to have the opportunity to see that project come to fruition was really satisfying. A lot of people made the effort to come and see him and it really warmed his heart and lifted him up,” he said.
Mr. Miller leaves behind two children, Justin and Kimberley, and three grandchildren, Harrison, Zoe and Mia, as well as longtime partner Catherine Crabb.
In a joint statement to the Cayman Compass, the family paid tribute to his visionary spirit.
“We got more than love from our father, grandfather and friend. We got our most important values from him,” they said.
“We are all obviously saddened by the tremendous loss and take comfort in knowing that he’s at peace and surrounded by the loved ones that went before him.
“He was a man ahead of his time and a one-of-a-kind pioneer in so many ways. Our hope is that his visionary spirit for the country that he loved so dearly will become a reality.”
Outside of his public life, Mr. Miller was a family man who doted on his grandchildren, who knew him as Papa.
“We truly think they were his greatest joy and among the hardest to leave behind,” the family said in the statement.
“He had big plans and many years of memories he intended to build and lessons he planned to teach, including how to steam fish Cayman style, pick a lobster, all about our family heritage and Cayman traditions, not to mention the rides he planned for them in his convertible BMW.”
Mr. Miller had been suffering from cancer for more than two years. He passed away at home on Sunday afternoon.
His friend Mr. Ebanks said, “He’s had a long hard battle and, in a way, it is a blessing that he doesn’t suffer any more.
“He was a unique individual, a natural leader and a visionary sort of person.”
He said his friend was driven by what he could do for Cayman as a country, sometimes at the expense of his electoral chances in campaigns which tend to focus on local issues.
“I remember Captain Charles Kirkconnell telling him after one of his election campaigns, ‘You ran a great campaign and all the smart people voted for you. The only problem was there was not enough smart people.’”
On a personal level, he said Mr. Miller was much loved by a close group of friends.
“He poked a lot of jokes and made a lot of fun. Everybody loved him,” said Mr. Ebanks.
Mr. Miller started his professional life as an accountant with Price Waterhouse, before going on to establish numerous business ventures in the financial services and real estate arenas.
He partnered with top Nashville country music artists for the completion of the Treasure Island Hotel – at the time the largest property on Seven Mile Beach. For more than 20 years he operated a wastewater treatment business, Wastewater Purification Systems Ltd. He was also involved in various public boards and committees over the years, including Cayman Airways, the Chamber of Commerce and the Tourism Action Group, and founded The Young Caymanian Businessmen’s Association and the North Coast Tourism Council.
The Ministry of Tourism released a statement Monday describing him as a legendary figure and ceaseless advocate for the industry.
“Bo’s association with tourism goes back more than three decades and includes many successful ventures, including the construction and management of tourist accommodations in North Side and George Town and the establishment of the first North Coast Tourism Council,” according to the statement.
“Bo had the biggest of hearts and frequently put the needs of others before his own. He was as much loved for his wisdom and business acumen as he was for his spirit of Caymankindness, which was evident in all he did throughout his life.”
Alva Suckoo, who worked alongside Mr. Miller on the one man, one vote campaign, said he would be sadly missed.
“Mr. Miller was a Caymanian patriot. He made valuable contributions to the development of our country and worked very hard to improve our islands,” he said.
“His strong-willed and determined approach may not have always won him friends in the political arena but he was respected for his unquestionable love for this country and his people. His memory will serve as an inspiration to us all.”