Alden McNee McLaughlin Sr., father of Premier Alden McLaughlin, has passed away.
McLaughlin, 93, who was Cayman’s first formally trained public health officer, died on Monday following a long illness, according to an Office of the Premier statement.
Premier McLaughlin and his father shared a strong bond, evidenced by the fact that they shared the same names.
It’s a bond Premier McLaughlin frequently referred to publicly as he often used his father’s words of wisdom in speeches and interviews.
In an interview with the Grand Cayman magazine in 2017, Premier McLaughlin credited his father with instilling him with ambition and getting him to pursue further education.
“I have my father more than anyone else to thank,” the premier said in the interview. “I don’t remember how it came about, but I told him I was going to stay with Texaco. He was so upset. He sat down and he reasoned with me, argued with me, over many weeks. I said, ‘No, Dad, I don’t want to go back to school again. I’ve had enough of that.’ Up until that point, I’d only seen him cry once, when his mother died in August of 1970. The man broke down. I didn’t know what to do. But I was very stubborn, a trait I’d inherited from him.”
He shared in that interview that his father used to tell him, ‘My boy, you cannot see it yet, but take it from me: The day is coming in Cayman when you’re going to need a degree to drive a garbage truck,’” said McLaughlin. “That’s why he was so adamant.”
The elder McLaughlin can easily be described as one of the premier’s biggest supporters and was often seen on the campaign trail cheering him on.
He would often tell anyone who would listen, how proud he was of his children and, in particular, of the premier.
McNee McLaughlin was born in 1926 and worked in a number of roles.
He taught in a school on Cayman Brac, then taught in West Bay before going to sea for 10 years. He returned to Cayman in 1955 and married his wife Althea, who passed away in 2008.
The elder McLaughlin was determined not to go back to sea.
He worked as a hired driver and then as a plumber before winning a scholarship to the West Indies School of Public Health in Jamaica, where he completed a three-year course in just one year.
He came back to Cayman as the island’s first formally trained public health officer in 1959, and then two years later, his son Alden was born. The couple also had two daughters, Debbie and Elizabeth.
Both Governor Martyn Roper and deputy governor Franz Manderson extended condolences to the premier and his family.
“I was fortunate to meet Mr McLaughlin a few months ago. I heard much about his passion and commitment for education. He will be greatly missed,” Governor Roper said in a statement Tuesday.
Manderson highlighted McLaughlin’s contribution to the Civil Service.
“Mr McLaughlin dedicated years of his life to public service, working as a teacher and later as a public health officer. My thoughts and prayers are with the Honourable Premier and his family at this difficult time,” Manderson said.
Tuesday evening the Progressives party, which is led by Premier McLaughlin, extended its condolences to the McLaughlin family.
“McNee was a stalwart of the PPM family and as long as he was able, he supported and advocated for the cause it represents. He supported his son Alden tirelessly and was a conspicuous figure in the Progressives family,” the Progressives said in the statement.