Kirkland Nixon, Cayman’s first fire chief, was remembered Sunday as a family man, a voracious reader and a consummate public servant during a solemn memorial service held at the Lions Centre.
Hundreds attended the ceremony to pay their last respects.
Mr. Nixon, who passed away on April 30, was eulogized by a host of prominent community members, including Premier Alden McLaughlin, Deputy Premier Moses Kirkconnell and former Speaker of the Legislative Assembly Linford Pierson, before he was laid to rest at Tall Tree Cemetery.
The Cayman Islands Fire Service, which Mr. Nixon headed for four decades, showed up en masse at Sunday’s service. At the end of the ceremony, the fire service members lined up in a guard of honor along the center aisle of the Lions Centre and ushered his casket to a waiting fire truck for the ride to the cemetery.
“The loss of Kirkland is deep and personal to me. I grew up on Crewe Road not very far from where he built his first house. I’ve known him all my life,” said Mr. McLaughlin in the moments before reading a prepared tribute to Mr. Nixon. “He has served not just as a mentor, guide and a role model in his personal life and at the Lions Club, but also as I have entered my political career and gone through that over the past 18 years, he has increasingly been a good source of counsel and a great support.”
Mr. McLaughlin ticked off several of the positions Mr. Nixon had filled during his life in his prepared remarks. He lauded Mr. Nixon for his service as president of the Lions Club, coordinator of the National Hurricane Committee, and chairman of the Cayman Islands Airports Authority, among other roles. Mr. Pierson read a version of Mr. Nixon’s life story prepared by his wife Melba and assorted friends, but he shared a remembrance of his friend before delivering the prepared remarks.
“Our hearts are heavy with grief and sorrow as we mourn the loss of this outstanding Caymanian patriot,” he said. “It was my pleasure and privilege to have known and engaged in various activities with Kirkie for upwards of 40 years, during which time I found him to be a man of honor and integrity. A man whose word was his bond. Indeed, a man who could be trusted. There will always be a heartache and often a silent tear, always a special memory of the days when we were here, my brother and friend.”
Mr. Pierson, as part of his prepared remarks, shared a special mantra developed by Mr. Nixon: “Do all the good you can, by all the means you can, in all the ways you can, in all the places you can, at all the times you can, to all the people you can as long as you ever can.”
The Cayman Islands Airports Authority, Ministry of District Administration, Public Service Pensions Board, Queen Elizabeth II Botanic Park and Cayman Islands Seafarers Association all entered official remembrances of Mr. Nixon, who touched the community in numerous ways during his life.
Mr. Nixon is survived by his wife Melba, daughters Tammy and Lorrie, grandson Joey and four siblings. Mr. Nixon’s siblings, wife and daughters detailed their memories of their loved one to be read aloud.
“There are so many unique qualities that I could share about him today, but time does not permit,” said the remembrance from Mrs. Nixon, read by Linburgh Martin. “He accomplished most of his desires, but the one thing he desired most and wanted to see become a reality was the growing-up of our precious grandson Joey. He wanted for him to have the best education possible. This I promised him I will do.”
At the conclusion of the memorial service, Mr. Nixon’s flag-draped casket was escorted to a waiting Fire Service pickup truck and placed in the bed. Three fire engines accompanied the truck and the funeral caravan to Tall Tree Cemetery, where Mr. Nixon was laid to rest after a brief graveside ceremony.