Linton N. Tibbetts
16 July 1923 – 6 October 2011
Linton N. Tibbetts, O.B.E., affectionately known as “Mr. T,” was born on Cayman Brac on July 16, 1923, the son of Elsie (Hunter) and James Nathaniel Tibbetts. He grew up watching his father build sailing ships, and survived the hurricane of 1932. At the age of 17, he set off to sea and later joined the United States Merchant Marines. In 1946, he moved to St. Petersburg, Florida where he met Pauline Enix. They married on March 28, 1948 and had four children Mary, David, Donna, and Daniel.
Linton was a serial entrepreneur through a more than 65-year career. His ventures included lumber and building materials, export, hotels, an airline, banking, and real estate. In 1949, he purchased a lumberyard in St. Petersburg, Florida called Cox Lumber. Mr. T grew Cox into the largest privately held lumber company in the Southeastern U.S. until its sale in 2006. In 2009, at the age 86, he and his family decided to start over by opening a new enterprise, Tibbetts Lumber Company.
Mr. T remained committed to the people of the Cayman Islands and returned frequently. He worked with his family on a number of projects, including Brac Reef Beach Resort, Little Cayman Beach Resort, Village Square, Tibbetts Square, Cayman Brac Power and Light, and Cox Lumber Ltd. For his service to the Islands and their economy, Mr. T was awarded the designation Order of the British Empire (O.B.E.) in 2003 by Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II at Buckingham Palace.
One of Mr. T’s greatest sources of pride was his Caymanian heritage – traced to the founding settlers in the 1700s. To tell the stories of the people of the Sister Islands, he and his wife, Polly, acquired hundreds of artifacts that were the genesis for the Cayman Brac Museum in 1980, the Little Cayman Museum in 1997 and the Marine Museum in 2009. His museums served as a series of prompts for his memory, with the passion for the Islands and their people evident in every story. Mr. T’s legacy and passion lives on in this museum.