Retiree’s home once owned by first National Hero

WIth a fresh coat of paint, the house looks as good as it did 23 years ago. – Photos: Jewel Levy

The father of retired South Sound resident Bill White quite literally moved house in 1995 when he transported a building owned by the late Jim Bodden, Cayman’s first National Hero, to a site on Walkers Road.

Berkley White purchased the single-story cedar house, which Mr. Bodden used as offices on Lawrence Boulevard in George Town, and brought it to its new location on Walkers Road on a lowboy truck.

He and his wife Velma never lived in it. Instead, the couple chose to rent the building and live in South Sound.

Mr. Bodden, born in 1930, was honored as a National Hero on June 28, 1994. He passed away in 1988.

He was elected to the Legislative Assembly in 1972, and served two terms as a member of the Executive Council.

He was re-elected to the legislature in 1984 and served as a backbench MLA for the rest of his life.

Billy White, 70 – Berkley White’s son – currently lives in the house after inheriting it from his parents, and says he is proud to live in a house where the iconic leader worked.

Billy White told the Cayman Compass the house has been appreciated by his family over the years for its many original features and decorative trimmings, which were representative of Cayman’s tastes and styles for houses dating back to that era.

Billy White relaxes in his hammock.

“I was in the house when Hurricane Ivan came … Only a few sheets of zinc came off the house and it received little damage,” Mr. White said. “It goes to show how strong the houses were built those days.

Located on Walkers Road, near the South Sound junction, the house is painted a sunshine yellow.

According to Mr. White, a man by the name of Alan Wagner brought the house to South Sound on a truck. They had to remove the roof for it to pass along the street.

He said no major changes had been made to the inside or outside of the house. The four offices were turned into bedrooms and the house has one bathroom and a front porch.

Billy White said he grew up in South Sound.

“Life in South Sound was just fishing and working. When there was not enough work to keep me going, I spent time fishing,” he said.

He recalls helping his father and uncle work on a catboat for the late Mr. Bodden to carry out turtling.

“The boat was fixed at Smith Barcadere beach in South Sound.

“It was an old boat he got and asked us to fix it up. I don’t think he went turtling. I think he had men that would go out there for him,” Mr. White said.

He recalls the area as being just a dirt road years ago and most youngsters would wander from house to house, which were few and far apart. He also remembers the bulldozers coming to widen the road and the area becoming more populated.

Today, Mr. White says he spends time in his hammock when he’s not fishing or working around the yard. With no wife and none of his seven children living with him, he’s happy to just relax.

“Life is good,” he said.

1 COMMENT

  1. For the sake of accuracy in journalism I’d like to point out that Owen Roberts International Airport (ORIA) was constructed in the early 1950’s, and opened in 1952. There’s no recorded evidence that Jim Bodden had anything to do with its creation/construction. To clarify, Mr. Bodden, as Minister for Tourism & Aviation at the time, oversaw the building of the second ORIA Terminal building (the A-framed building), which opened to passengers in 1985.

    Also, I believe it’s important to clarify that Cayman Airways was established in 1968 (hence it is celebrating its 50th anniversary this year). Records show that Mr. Jim Bodden did not become a public servant until 1972. So, CAL was operating and flying aircraft bearing its name some 4 years before Jim Bodden even became a politician and approximately 8 years before he became Minister for Aviation. To my recollection and that which is documented in aviation and other public records – Jim Bodden was the Minister responsible when CAL was re-organized as a “stand-alone” airline, separated from its association with LACSA, and named as Cayman’s “National Airline”.

    While Jim Bodden may deserve some accolades, “establishing Cayman Airways and constructing Owen Roberts International Airport” are not among them.

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