Obituary: Alastair Paterson

Alastair Paterson at a birthday party in Cayman (1996).

Long-time Cayman resident, businessman and Rotarian, Alastair Paterson, has died. He was 73.

From Scotland to the Caribbean

Born on 30 Dec. 1947 in Stranraer, Scotland, Paterson attended Heriot Watt University in Edinburgh, where he qualified as a quantity surveyor. His subsequent membership in a number of industry associations included the Chartered Institute of Surveyors and the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors.

After working in Aberdeen and London for some years, he moved to Jamaica in the early ‘70s to join the firm of Stoppi Cairney Bloomfield.

While living and working on the Caribbean island, he met his future wife, Meg Eveleigh, through a mutual friend. They tied the knot at Marlborough Great House in Mandeville on 13 Dec. 1975.

Alastair started his own quantity surveying company in Cayman in 1979, which was announced in The Nor’wester’s ‘What’s New on the Cayman business scene’ section. – Photo: The Nor’wester

Daughter Emma was born in 1976, and five months later, after encouragement from Michael Godfrey, the family moved to Grand Cayman so Paterson could take up an appointment with construction company Arch & Godfrey. A second daughter, Penny, was born in 1978.

- Advertisement -

In 1979, Paterson started his own quantity surveying company, which he sold to Deloitte in 2004. He subsequently set up Bould Paterson Ltd. where he remained until his retirement.

Getting into island life

As soon as the family was settled on the island in 1977, Paterson immersed himself in community clubs. His love of treading the boards had him signing up with the Cayman Drama Society and Inn Theatre Company, leading to parts in such productions as ‘A Man for All Seasons’, ‘The Real Inspector Hound’, ‘Cinderella’ and ‘Wonderland of Broadway’, which boasted over 100 performances.

Alastair was a very talented actor, no question,” said Penny Phillips, who directed him in several shows. “He just did it so well, and was always professional in the way he approached his parts.”

She recalled his wife, Meg, playing the prince in the 1981 pantomime ‘Jack and the Beanstalk’, adding, with a laugh, that “Alastair seemed a bit envious of Meg getting the role, so the next year, he was the footman in ‘Cinderella’, directed by Clive Munyard”.

Evelyn Andresen and Alastair Paterson performing the song ‘Honey Bun’ from ‘South Pacific’. – Photo: The Nor’wester

A bit of a multi-hyphenate when it came to the arts, Paterson also got involved in the local music scene. He, along with Mark McTaggart, Rob Jenkinson, Keith Carter and the late Chris Hanni, created the DisBand group, which played for private parties and charity events.

When not bathed in the stage lights, Paterson was an enthusiastic sportsman. He was a founder member of the Downtowner Squash Club and, subsequently, a founder of the South Sound Squash Club. He was also a member of the Cayman Islands Rugby Club, often seen on the pitch refereeing games.

Golf and boating were additional pursuits, and when it came to spectator sports, very little held a candle to watching his beloved Miami Dolphins live, in their home stadium. He and friend Barry Smith were season ticket holders.

“He was such a hale and hearty guy,” Smith said, “and a Dolphins fanatic. We used to go to the games when Dan Marino was the quarterback and Don Shula was coach – the good old days. The rest of us had the logo shirts, but Alastair had all the gear.”

(Paterson was, in fact, laid to rest in his Dolphins training pants.)

Committed Rotarian

His further desire to “truly get into the fabric of Cayman life”, as described by Smith, was made apparent by his membership in the Rotary Club of Grand Cayman, of which he was voted president for 1996/1997.

Alastair was well-known for his ability to make people laugh. – Photo: Rotary Sunrise Facebook

In 1996, a young Irish lawyer by the name of Tim Shea, employed with local firm Hunter & Hunter, was diagnosed with terminal cancer. Shea’s wish was to leave hospital and return home, spending his remaining time in Cayman with friends and family. Paterson, in his role with Rotary, was instrumental in supporting a fundraising initiative that not only gave Shea his wish, but led to the creation of Cayman HospiceCare, now Jasmine.

Friend and work colleague, Jonathan Nicholson, said, “Our club raised something like $80K in [Alastair’s] year for HospiceCare, which got it going.”

In 2002, Paterson became a founder member of Rotary Sunrise Grand Cayman and Charter President 2002/2003. He was later appointed District 7020 Governor for 2006/2007, which required visiting each country in the district and as many clubs as possible. District 7020 encompasses Anguilla, the British Virgin Islands, the Cayman Islands, Haiti, Jamaica, St. Barth, St. Maarten, St. Martin, The Bahamas, the Turks & Caicos and the US Virgin Islands.

“A committed Rotarian, Alastair Paterson… provided leadership and drive to initiate our club,” said Robert Powell, present president of Rotary Sunrise. “[He] was always keen to introduce people to Rotary, many of whom have followed his example and gone on to take up leadership roles within the organisation. Despite retiring to France, he remained connected to Rotary Sunrise, often joining meetings via Zoom (before it became fashionable) and providing support and mentorship to new and experienced members alike. Alastair was a greatly respected member of our club, and our community, and will be sorely missed.”

Rotary District 7020 governor nominee of the Rotary Club of Grand Cayman, David Kirkaldy, said that Paterson’s passing had prompted many in the region to reach out with words of sympathy.

“Rotary’s District 7020 has seen an outpouring of sympathy and condolences for our Past District Governor,” said Kirkaldy. “We learned of PDG Alastair’s passing on Saturday (16 Oct.) morning and extend our collective condolences to his wife, Meg, to his daughters, and to his family.”

“[District Governor was] a role that Alastair embraced and is fondly remembered for by many… He was goal-oriented, direct and effective in accomplishing the objectives of his year,” Kirkaldy said.

Alastair was a founding member of Rotary Sunrise Grand Cayman, and elected District 7020 Governor for 2006/2007. – Photo: Rotary Sunrise Facebook

Trials and tribulations

Life in Cayman was not without its bumps. A particularly difficult period in Paterson’s career came when the island was still recovering from a mammoth storm.

In 2006, Sagicor General Insurance (Cayman) Ltd. (now Cayman First) sued Paterson and Hurlstone Construction, who had been employed to assist in the rebuilding of Windsor Village in the aftermath of Hurricane Ivan. The company alleged that the two parties had attempted to defraud it, which caused significant damage to Paterson’s professional reputation when allegations were made public.

He counter-sued, and after seven subsequent years of legal battles, was vindicated in a landmark Privy Council case, which awarded him $1.3 million in damages.

Cayman friendships

Of course, there were also many happy memories created over the years. Friends remember the gregarious Scot who threw himself into work and play with equal gusto, frequenting establishments like the Cayman Arms pub in the old days, and Fidel Murphy’s.

“For as long as I can remember, Alastair was part of the fabric of Cayman, both socially and professionally,” said Alan Roffey. “[He was a constant presence] at the old Cayman Arms and the Rugby Club, [as well as] the Inn Theatre [in the old Royal Palms Hotel], and the Hogmanay and Burns Supper parties.

“In business, [he was involved in many local projects] from the underground utilities in Governor’s Harbour, to the cancelled hospital in the nineties, the post-Hurricane Ivan rebuilding and, of course, Rotary, where we worked together on many worthwhile [initiatives] over more than 30 years. He was also a particularly funny Sergeant-at-Arms. We will miss you old friend.”

Ever the fashion icon. – Photo: Rotary Sunrise

Local businessman and work colleague, John Hurlstone, spoke of their lasting friendship through the years.

“I first met Alastair in 1982,” Hurlstone said. “He was amiable, funny, instinctively generous and brimming with a gentle self-confidence. Shortly [thereafter], he became our Project Manager/Quantity Surveyor of our construction company Hurlstone Construction, and so started our lifelong professional and personal friendship. We immediately clicked personality-wise and he became our trusted advisor for all of our construction business life. I trusted him implicitly and he never led us wrong. We weathered many business challenges together and our personal friendship remained strong and constant.”

Close friend Peter Kandiah recalled the “larger-than-life character, who was always the first guy in the pub to buy a round of drinks”.

“He was the life and soul of the party,” Kandiah said, adding that when Paterson would fly over to the UK to assist with an annual music festival, Kandiah would take him to the nearby pub where he would immediately be welcomed by staff and patrons.

Well, almost every patron…

“He actually beat the local champion at dominoes,” Kandiah said, laughing. “The man was shocked!”

Chris Johnson knew Paterson through the Rotary connection, as well as sports clubs.

Alastair had a zest for life which infected many of us, in particular at our weekly Rotary meetings. He was witty, knowledgeable and an inspirational speaker, which was demonstrated when he was our Rotary President and District Governor.

“Many of us remember his rugby- and squash-playing days where his enthusiasm abounded… he always had a smile on his face,” Johnson said.

Alastair with his ‘five prides of joy’ – his grandchildren.

David Wheaton recalled Paterson’s determination once he had set himself a goal, such as the infamous pig roast story.

“Many years ago, Alastair decided it would be fun to have a Polynesian pig roast at his house, and invite all his neighbours,” Wheaton said, adding that completing most of the preparation steps for this method of cooking was fairly simple, but getting the pig was another matter.

“The details of how or where he did are lost to history, however, at this point, things were about to unravel. Instead of the lovely little suckling pig he expected to receive, his supplier presented him with something approaching close to 100 pounds. Alastair was not a quitter. Undaunted, he knuckled down to the job in hand.

“On the big day, at some ungodly hour of the morning, the bonfire was lit and the pig, wrapped in banana leaves, went into the ground. Come the early afternoon, by which time the pig had been cooking away for several hours, the guests began to arrive, bearing their contributions to the feast.”

Polynesian cooking is not an exact science, and Paterson had no guidelines for how long a 100-pound pig would take. Concerns about undercooked pork stayed the next step for a while.

“Time passed, the alcohol flowed, but eventually the decision was made to exhume the body,” Wheaton said. “It was immediately obvious it was not cooked. In a moment of inspiration, it was carved into some manageable chunks, which were taken by the ladies to finish them off in their ovens at homes just across the road. This was no five-minute job, so it was back to the drinks table.

“With the sun starting downwards in the west, and almost everybody rather the worse-for-wear after hours of drinking on empty stomachs, Alastair’s Polynesian roast pig was finally ready – a fitting and delicious end to a hilarious day, memories of which would not soon be forgotten.”

After living in the Cayman Islands for nearly 40 years, Alastair and Meg relocated to France in 2016 where they had bought a home. He thoroughly enjoyed indulging his passion for good food, wine and building dry stone walls.

“I was very happy for him and Meg as they retired to France to pursue his dream of a life in the French countryside amongst, as he described it, ‘the vines’,” Hurlstone said. “His passing leaves a hole in my heart and a grief that’s difficult to explain.

“He was a dear friend that I will always remember with loving fondness. Au revoir, Alastair, until we meet again.”

In addition to his wife Meg, Alastair Paterson is survived by daughters Emma and Penny, five grandchildren, younger brother Ken and extended families. In lieu of flowers, the family has asked for donations to be made in his name to the Rotary Club of Grand Cayman Sunrise, account #0210103762400 at Butterfield Bank.

- Advertisement -

Support local journalism. Subscribe to the all-access pass for the Cayman Compass.

Subscribe now