Mary Evelyn Wood, Cert. Hon.
National Hero of Cayman Islands
“Dedication and selfless service” is how Ms Mary Evelyn Wood, Cert. Hon. (1900 to 1978) is remembered.
Early life and education
A true pioneer, Mary Evelyn Wood dedicated her life to bringing change to these Islands, for the benefit of the Caymanian people. She was born to Charles and Julietta Wood and was the youngest daughter in a family of six.
Miss Evie, as she was known, was the first woman ever elected to the Cayman Islands Legislature and was also the first to serve on a jury. Those groundbreaking achievements and more were products of her lasting commitment towards addressing the needs of the local community.
With a level of dedication towards others that was evident even at a young age, she was only in her early 20s when she started a small school in her father’s home, serving as its sole teacher. Several years later, after receiving training as a practical nurse, she changed vocations, entering what was then known as “private nursing.” That entailed visiting the homes of new and expectant mothers, in addition to sick persons around Grand Cayman. Her most notable service undoubtedly occurred during the typhoid epidemic of the late 1930s when she provided tireless care.
By 1957 an interest in women’s rights led her to join hundreds of other women in signing the petition for female suffrage of that year, now commemorated in Heroes Square, George Town. After women won the right to vote in 1959, she joined Ormond Panton’s National Democratic Party as treasurer and chair of the Bodden Town Committee. In 1962 she became that district’s Legislative Assembly representative.
Aside from her participation in social and political life, Miss Evie was also active in the church.
Honours and awards
Her unstinting service to the community was recognized in 1965, when she received the Cayman Islands Certificate and Badge of Honour.