´Those she taught, or who remember her tenure as Chief Education Officer, still talk about her achievements today. While we were hoping that she would have made her century, she was certainly blessed with 99 years of life.”
Premier Wayne Panton
(CMR) Mrs. Islay Leonie Conolly (nee Bodden), a longtime educator, and MBE recipient is being mourned by the people of the Cayman Islands after her passing yesterday. Simply knowns as “Ms. Islay” Premier Panton expressed shared that her “influence was ahead of her time, and its benefits have been lasting”.
She just celebrated her 99 birthday on May 8 and shares her birthday with former Speaker of the House, Hon. Mary Lawrence who turned 82.
Born in 1923 in Cayman Brac to Harris and Ella Bodden she began her career in education as the headmistress of the Creek School in 1947. She then became the Principal of East End School in Grand Cayman before being appointed Chief Education Officer in 1970. During her career, she was recognized for starting a school for the hearing impaired as well as introducing the community college to the people of the Cayman Islands.
Ms. Islay also served for many yers on the Public Service Commission which was responsible for the hiring of civil servants.
Many Caymanians were impacted by her tutelage and fondly remember her. She remained in that leadership role until her retirement in 1982.
In 1975 she received the Queen's recognition award for her accomplishments in education when she was awarded the MBE. Conolly was also honored as a member of the Order of the British Empire in 1981. She has been honored by the Caymanian government with the Spirit of Excellence Award during National Heroes Day in 2009 as an Education Pioneer. She was the first recipient of the Chamber of Commerce's Lifetime Achievement Award in Education in 2008.
She was married to the late National Hero William Warren Conolly, OBE for 50 years when he passed away in 2008. They had three children: David Ritch, Burns Conolly, and Jacqueline Conolly – Smellie. William Warren Conolly was a major player in Cayman’s political, economic and social landscape, and on National Heroes Day 2012 he was named a National Hero.
´In recognition of the significant reach and impact of Ms Conolly’s work, the Government extends its deepest condolences to Ms Conolly’s entire family’