Former governor Thomas Russell remembered

| 05/08/2016
CNS Local Life

Thomas Russell

(CNS): Government officials and civil servants were among those attending a memorial service Thursday, 4 August, in celebration of the life of the much-respected former governor of the Cayman Islands, Thomas Russell, who died 4 July. He was the third governor and the longest serving of all to date, arriving in 1974 and remaining at the post for seven years.The programme of prayers, scriptures, songs and fond recollections was held on the lawn of the Government Administration Building.

Dignitaries attending the service included Governor Helen Kilpatrick, Premier Alden McLaughlin, Deputy Governor Franz Manderson, Leader of the Opposition McKeeva Bush, former Chief Secretary Lemuel Hurlston, Chief Secretary James Ryan, former Cayman Islands Representative in the UK Jennifer Dilbert, Justices of the Peace Association representative Albert Anderson, and Cayman Islands Veterans Association representative Andrew McLaughlin.

In paying her final respects, Kilpatrick said, “He was a model statesman who will be missed by all those he came into contact with. Thomas Russell was unique to his time. He promoted a philosophy of effective and efficient governance which focused on the importance of improving people’s lives in a sustainable way.”

She noted that his ethical and sincere approach led to him being regarded by many as the “People’s Governor”, and he demonstrated the importance of the relationship between a governor and the people.

Kilpatrick added, “…His long life was filled with good work which we can all aspire to, and sets a standard which we should all strive to achieve.”

CNS Local LIfe

(L-R) Marco Archer, Tara Rivers, Moses Kirkconnell, Alden McLaughlin and Helen Kilpatrick at Thomas Russell’s memorial

These sentiments were echoed by McLaughlin, who said, “We remember with fondness and love former governor of the Cayman Islands Thomas Russell who died peacefully in his sleep at his home in Scotland at age 96 on 5 July…With his passing, the Cayman Islands has indeed lost a true friend. May his soul rest in peace.”

When Russell was appointed governor in 1974, it was a critical time in the early development of the offshore financial industry as well as tourism. After seven years’ service, he was invited to establish the Cayman Islands Government Office in London, which opened in 1982.

That office provides diplomatic links between the Cayman Islands and the UK, builds relationships and enhances Cayman’s interests there. He also helped to found the UK Overseas Territories Association.

Following his “second retirement”, Russell kept up with developments in Cayman.

His public service career spanned 52 years – a record unlikely to be surpassed given today’s strict rules on retirement age. His knowledge and understanding of overseas territories were not only invaluable in his role as head of the Cayman Islands London Office, but also to the Foreign Office.

Russell’s exemplary military service was also noted. Before he came to Cayman, he served in World War II, and became a prisoner of war. Subsequent to his release from military duty at the end of the war, the Cayman Islands was one of the many overseas areas where he served the Crown.

He was also a long-time Veterans Association’s representative at the Royal Commonwealth Ex-services League Headquarters in London and in November 2012 was appointed as its vice president for life by the league’s Grand President Prince Philip.

He was a founding member of the Veterans Association in 1978, and that organisation recently held a memorial service for Russell.


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  1. Anonymous says:

    Red ties at a memorial service?! I don’t care if it IS your party colour. It’s still tacky, tacky, tacky!