Desmond Vere Walter, CBE
National Hero of Cayman Islands
“His life stands as a sterling example” is the tribute paid to Mr. Desmond Vere Watler, CBE (1914 to 1994) -- an exemplary citizen and exceptional civil servant. Starting out as a 23-year-old clerk, his almost four-decade career saw him rise through the ranks to become, in 1969, Cayman’s first Treasurer, a title that was constitutionally changed to Financial Secretary.
Early life and education
Born on 10 October 1914, Desmond Walter was the son of William Conwell Watler and Ursalina Valentina McLaughlin.
Mr. Desmond became the first Chief Secretary of the Cayman Islands in 1972. He served in the Legislative Assembly for 32 years and was the First Official Member and Chairman of the Executive Council. He served in every area of parliamentary administration in the legislature and regarded the provision of proper communications and the writing of tax haven legislation as being key factors in the progress of the Cayman Islands.
Equally active in the wider community, Mr. Desmond became a Chartered Rotarian of Grand Cayman in 1965 and was a lifetime church elder of the Gun Bay United Church, conducting services throughout all districts. He was honoured twice by Queen Elizabeth II, first in 1966 as an Officer of the Order of the British Empire and again in 1975 when he became a Commander of that Order.
Highly regarded for his soft-spoken demeanor, he became even better-known as a role model regarding standards of civil service integrity. His life remains a sterling example to today’s young people, demonstrating that with hard work, dedication and commitment to excellence, it is possible to reach the top of the career ladder.
He married Wilma Ryder in 1948 and had one child.
Desmond Walter died on 25 October 1994, aged 80.