William “Buddy” Wood, a prominent businessman in the Bodden Town community, passed away Tuesday night at the age of 84.
Surrounded by family members, Mr. Wood died at his home after a long illness, his son Mark Wood said.
An ardent family man, entrepreneur and farmer, Mr. Wood, like many Caymanians of the seafaring era, spent time working with National Bulk Carriers. In his time on the ship, he became a certified engineer.
While at sea, he began screening films after purchasing a 16mm projector. He would charge the other sailors a small stipend to come to his films and when National Bulk Carriers heard of this, the company decided to outfit all of their ships with a projector for watching films.
This interest in films would serve Mr. Wood well later in life, especially when he returned to Cayman.
Once settled back home in Cayman, Mr. Wood opened the Ever-glo Drive-in Theatre in Pease Bay in the 1960s as a family oriented establishment, where locals would gather to watch the latest Hollywood blockbusters.
The drive-in cinema served as the backdrop for many Caymanians’ childhood memories and local people recall there was nothing like getting dressed up to go watch a movie at Mr. Buddy’s place.
The drive-in closed in the mid-80s.
In later years, Mr. Wood turned the Ever-glo building into a bar and restaurant.
Mr. Wood was proud of how Caymanians were self-sufficient in local produce and meats when he was growing up, and to keep this heritage alive, he opened Buddy’s Produce Market in the Ever-glo building, selling freshly grown produce.
Filled with an infectious enthusiasm for life and very active in the community, Mr. Wood had a smile and a greeting for everyone he met.
“He had a good life. He’s been all over the world, even visiting the Pope, and then he came back home and started his own business,” said his son Mark. “He started the drive-in theater, went into construction, farming and sold real estate. Even when I started the quarry business, he went into that with me also.”
The Rev. Godfrey Meghoo said Mr. Wood will be missed by his family and the local community, as well as by local churchgoers.
“He was a god-fearing man, a leader in the community of Bodden Town, and also a Rotarian,” Mr. Meghoo said. “Mr. Wood was a member of the Bodden Town and North Side United churches and a Justice of the Peace. He had a family of three children, one of whom died some years ago. He also has six grandchildren, all of whom grew up in the church.”
Former cemetery caretaker Freddie Watler said of his friend, “I was with him from the time he opened the theater until the day it was closed. We went fishing a lot and raised cows together. He would give me anything I wanted and we lived very close.”
Mr. Wood and Corine, his wife of 60 years, spent time traveling the world after he retired. He loved to travel, often taking his family along, according to son Mark.
Mr. Wood is survived by his wife Corine, children Mark and Judy, and six grandchildren. His funeral service details will be announced at a later date.