By Flynn Bush
Pioneer, entrepreneur, visionary, leader, and advocate are just some of the words that can be used to describe Mr. Keith Parker Tibbetts Jr. And throughout his life, he has lived up to each one of them. Sadly, with his passing on June 5th, 2021, the Cayman Islands lost a person of considerable substance.
Mr. Tibbetts was born in Cayman Brac to the late Captain Keith Tibbetts and Marjorie Tibbetts, who were established business persons in their own right. So, the young Parker learned a lot at an early age. As he grew older, his business acumen grew with him. From starting a business, an auto junkyard, in Grand Cayman to becoming the founder and CEO of Associated Industries, a company that includes several major businesses in a variety of fields, Mr. Tibbetts worked hard and made great strides in the business community. These accomplishments invariably led to him being awarded the Lifetime Achievement award from the Chamber of Commerce in 2018.
Speaking to Mr. Tibbetts, one would have found him to be truly proud of his accomplishments but, humble and grateful at the same time. There was one accomplishment that he found extremely gratifying. That was his contribution to the Cayman Islands Disability Policy, published in 2014. Mr. Tibbetts’ staunch advocate for the rights of persons with disabilities played a major role in the development of this policy. Having become an amputee because of diabetes complications, and having to use a wheelchair as his primary mode of mobility, Mr. Tibbetts did not let that deter him from his mission. Today, the Cayman Islands are a better, and more accessible, place because of his contribution.
On another note, family was vitally important to Mr. Tibbetts. He felt that he was a blessed man, every day of his life. In a conversation I had with him in 2016, he said to me, “My family is what keeps me going. They are my fuel, because they are the important people.” I pray that his family finds comfort in knowing that today.
It is not too often that a person’s true value to society is recognized while they are alive. Often times, it is years or decades after their passing, if at all, that the role they have played has led to the betterment of the society as a whole. Mr. Keith Parker Tibbetts, Jr, was recognized to a certain extent as a person who made a difference in this country; the awards and his sterling reputation speak to that fact. However, I believe that as time goes by, we as a country may realize that his achievements and accomplishments we laud are only the tip of the iceberg. Mr. Tibbetts was truly a difference-maker, and he leaves a legacy of success and service behind.