Visitors murmured in small pockets, an honour guard snapped through its ceremonial routine and well-known Cayman faces mingled with others paying their respects as former politician John McLean lay in state on Monday in the foyer of Legislative Assembly building.
McLean, whose flag-draped coffin sat in the small antechamber directly across from the main entrance, is only the second Caymanian to be given this honour, according to Meloney Syms, chief of protocol for the government. The first was former Speaker of the House Edna Moyle, who died in 2013.
McLean served in the legislature for 24 years, from 1976 to 2000.
Standing on the steps outside the Assembly building, Brainard McLaughlin said it was a fitting honour to have the East End representative lie in state.
“He deserves that and more,” McLaughlin said. “He did a lot for his district and for the country.”
Jeralow Rankine likened McLean to family. He said he had known the 69‑year-old his entire life.
“We were like brothers,” said Rankine, who is known for his weaving skills. “I used to make all his hammocks. If he promised you something, he never stopped until you got it.”
Rankine was standing with Elma D. Ebanks on the sidewalk in the shadow of an overhanging tree, shortly before the visitation began at 10am. Ebanks said she thought McLean deserved to be honoured even more.
“They make a big thing when they have the guards run in for the queen,” she said. “Mr. John, his body should be in a parade.”
Alan Ebanks, who works with East End representative Arden McLean, said John McLean was not about pomp and circumstance.
“He was down to earth and never forgot his station in life,” Ebanks said. “He always showed me the same face. He was always the same person, a person who never forgot his roots.”
Even former political foes were on hand to honour McLean.
Former MLA and government minister Frank McField said he once put forward a motion calling for McLean to be removed from the Executive Council.
Despite that, McField said, “It was never something that stood between me and him. He always spoke to me and I always spoke to him. Personally, I never had anything against him.”
“I came to pay my respects to the man,” he added. “The respect I was showing him was the respect he showed me.”
The official funeral service for John McLean will be held Tuesday, 10 Sept. at 3pm at the Cayman Islands Baptist Church, 163 Pedro Castle Road, Savannah.