Funeral services for Former Speaker of the House Edna Marie Moyle are still being made.
Mrs. Moyle, 71, died election eve Tuesday around noon surrounded by her family at George Town Hospital. She had been suffering from cancer.
In 2009 the former legislator and Speaker of the House was made an Officer of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire for her contributions to politics in the Cayman Islands.
In a Facebook posting, North Side MLA Ezzard Miller said, “Today is another sad day for North Side and indeed the Cayman Islands. The passing to a higher reward of Miss Edna, as I affectionately called her, has created a huge loss to our small community which will be difficult to replace.
“Miss Edna left her footprints everywhere in this society, whether it was in the beauty pageants, at work, parenting, the hallowed halls of our Legislative Assembly or on the hustings of a political campaign. She did it her way with enthusiasm, courage, determination, honour, and respect. She never traded her principles, and she remained fully grounded to the moral upbringing and sense of right and wrong that her parents and the elders of this district imparted to her.
“In all her political career, no one questioned her honesty, integrity, commitment or courage to stand out from the crowd and be counted when it mattered to her.”
Her 17-year political career ended in 2009 when she decided not to stand for re-election, Mrs. Moyle was known to work for the betterment of the Caymanian people, particularly women and children.
In receiving the OBE, Mrs. Moyle was recognised as a multi-faceted person; one who balanced myriad activities within the community. She had long championed neglected causes and moved motions in the House, managing to bring about positive change on several occasions. In the process, she firmly made her mark on modern Cayman’s history.
Born 19 January, 1942, in George Town to Mr. Will Banks Miller, a North Side builder of homes, hotels and schooners, and Mrs. Celeste Miller (née Ebanks), she was the youngest of 10 children.
Her mother died when Edna was only seven and after attending the North Side Town Hall School at the primary level, her father sent her to Jamaica’s Knox College. She also completed commercial studies in Jamaica.
Returning to Cayman, Mrs. Moyle worked in the private sector until 1966 when she joined government service, holding a range of jobs including personal secretary to the then administrator, John A Cumber, as well as working as deputy clerk of the Legislative Assembly. Then in 1979, she rejoined the private sector.
Mrs. Moyle first ran for public office in 1984, having been approached by voters in her district. She was elected the Member for North Side on her third attempt in 1992 and remained an MLA until May 2009.
She also served as the House Deputy Speaker for eight years, before becoming the Minister of Community Development, Sports, Women’s Affairs and Youth, concerns all dear to her. In May 2005, she was elected Speaker of the House, a post she retained until her retirement.
As Speaker, Mrs Moyle ran a tight ship, maintaining the dignity and decorum of the Legislative Assembly, even in the heat of debate; applying House rules fairly and impartially, and upholding minority rights and views despite being a member of the majority ruling party.
As an MLA, her accomplishments were legion. One cause she championed early in her first term in office was the call to end discrimination against women in the civil service in several respects, including the denial of maternity leave. As she recalls, “I will never forget the day when Governor Gore called, advising me of my success.”
She was also largely responsible for government establishing a women’s affairs office and she was a guiding force in the launching of Cayman’s Legal Befrienders Clinic, through which women in need could obtain free legal advice.
Other positive outcomes from Mrs Moyle’s support of women’s causes in the House included the collection of gender-based statistics; the introduction of curriculum education on sex and contraception for teens; the placement of domestic violence on Cayman’s public agenda; and addressing the inadequacy of sentences that courts could impose for crimes against women.
In addition, Mrs. Moyle moved a Private Member’s Motion that called for a separate family protection police unit to handle family issues with greater sensitivity. Government accepted the motion and the Family Support Unit was established away from police headquarters to handle all family-related matters.
She also supported a motion that called for a safe house for battered women and their children. Facilitated by landmark domestic violence legislation, reported domestic abuse incidents had increased; government accepted the motion and Cayman’s Crisis Centre was born.
As a cabinet minister she had set plans in motion to establish a youth remand facility. “I do want to see this facility materialise quickly and I also want to see equal pay for women,” she said.
And in North Side, Mrs. Moyle worked diligently on behalf of her district’s older residents and she was active in establishing the library, the health centre, the civic centre, police station and community park. She also worked to set up netball and basketball courts and to complete the Old Man Bay playing field.
And in spite of her busy and lengthy public life, Mrs. Moyle was always devoted mother to her five children, Todd, Edward, Gillian, Rebecca and Sean as well as her grandchildren.
“Miss Edna not only earned the respect of us here in Cayman as Speaker in our Legislative Assembly, but was respected throughout the English-speaking Caribbean as someone to consult with and seek advice from on parliamentary procedure. Her tenure as Speaker was exemplary,” wrote Mr. Miller. “However, she saved her greatest passion for her children and protected and defended them fiercely. Most of you will know that if you really wanted to see her fighting side, all you had to do was say something about one of her children.
“The loss is great, but we must step into the void with courage and grace in her memory. Let us all recommit to improving the lives of all North Siders and Caymanians.”
Let us all pray for her family in the days ahead, that they will find strength to cope with her loss and let us do everything we can to be supportive during this difficult period.