Government flew flags at half-mast yesterday, March 30, at all government sites following the March 29 passing of Benson O. Ebanks, Jr., OBE, JP. The passing of the highly respected statesman of Town Hall Crescent’s Boltins Avenue West Bay has caused an outpouring of emotion within the community.
Premier, Wayne Panton released a statement on behalf of the PACT government, referring to “Mr Benson” as he was known, as embodying “the truest essence of being Caymanian and will be sorely missed.”
The statement extended deepest sympathies to Mr Benson’s children, grandchildren and extended family and went on to say that Mr Ebanks’ “contributions to our country’s development could be seen across public, private and civic life,” sharing that “he was committed to political stability, good governance and the careful, managed development of our beloved Cayman Islands.”
Leader of the Opposition, Roy McTaggart referred to Mr Benson as a “great Caymanian icon,” stating that he and his colleagues in the Opposition were “saddened” to hear of his passing.
“Mr Benson’s place in the history books of his beloved Islands is undisputed, as his place in the hearts of many Caymanians. His life’s work extended beyond government and parliament,” said Mr McTaggart, who extended his condolences to Mr Ebanks’ family on behalf of the Opposition.
The Chamber of Commerce also expressed its condolences to Mr Benson’s family, stating, “He embraced Cayman’s culture and society on all fronts… He was truly a Caymanian son of the soil who helped to lay a foundation in politics, in business and in the community… His outstanding contributions will benefit future generations… May his soul rest in peace and may perpetual light shine upon him.”
Mr Benson made a significant impact on the Cayman Islands as a politician, representing the district of West Bay for more than 30 years, as a Member of Executive Council, as a business leader and as a statesman.
Said Premier Panton, “Mr. Benson was the proud father of the Cayman Protection Law as it was originally enacted in March 1972. He was stalwart champion of education and higher learning, and in 1986 he was instrumental in helping to establish the Sunrise Adult Learning Centre in his role as Minister of Health, Education and Social Services at the time.”
As a business leader, Mr. Benson was a founding shareholder of Cayman National Bank in 1974, and founding Chairman of the Board and in November 2016, the Cayman Brac branch of the bank was dedicated to him. In 2010, after 36 years as the founding Chairman of the Board of Directors of Cayman National Corporation, Mr Benson formally resigned his position as director and as Chairman.
Mr Benson had several retail businesses and encouraged others to consider entrepreneurship. His hardware and supplies store in West Bay was a fixture of the community for many years.
Mr Benson was elected as the first President of the Cayman Islands Chamber of Commerce from 1965-1967.
He was a founding member of the Rotary Club of Grand Cayman in 1966 and Chairman of the National Council of Voluntary Organisations (NCVO). .
“His contributions to our Islands through politics, business, and socially helped make the Cayman Islands a better place and positively impacted the lives of countless numbers of Caymanians,” said Mr McTaggart.
“Mr Benson was also put much of his time and talents into the building of the Cayman Islands socially,” recounted Premier Panton.
Flags will fly at half mast once again for two days before Mr Benson Ebanks’ funeral, which has not yet been announced.