Hamaty a friend to all, enemy to none, says 'Butch' Stewart


Hamaty a friend to all, enemy to none, says 'Butch' Stewart

Wednesday, July 01, 2020

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GORDON “Butch” Stewart has described the late Captain Robert “Robbie” Hamaty, master pilot and founder of Tortuga Rum Company, as a supremely decent human being who was a friend to all and enemy to none.

Stewart, the Caribbean's leading hotelier and founder of Sandals Resorts International, paid tribute in a statement to his long-standing friend who died on June 13, 2020 at Baptist Hospital in Miami, Florida, with wife Carlene at his side. Following is the full text of Stewart's tribute:

“I have been deeply saddened by the passing of Captain “Robbie” Hamaty, a truly generous and kind-hearted man who has been a friend to all and enemy to none. He will be sorely missed by all whose lives he has touched with his wonderful ways.

In my long association with Robbie, I have found him nothing less than a supremely decent human being who believed that the more he helped others the more his own life was enriched. He will always be remembered for his tremendous impact on so many people in Jamaica where he was born, and the Cayman Islands which became his adopted home.

Captain Hamaty will also be remembered for his singular accomplishments in the airline industry as a master pilot, and in business, especially for his establishment, with his wife Carlene, of the Tortuga [Caribbean] Rum Cake, one of the Caribbean's most recognisable brands.

Born in Jamaica in 1948, Robbie developed an unyielding passion for flying as a young man. At age 24 he joined Air Jamaica where his career took off, becoming one of the airline's first 12 commissioned pilots, its youngest DC-9 captain and, only a year later, its youngest captain, flying a DC-8 on the transatlantic route from Kingston to London.

In 1978 Robbie migrated to Cayman where he joined Cayman Airways and climbed up the ranks to the position of chief pilot. As he did in Jamaica, he founded the local pilots' association. When ill health forced him to end his flying career, he turned his attention to business.

He founded the Tortuga Rum Company for which Jamaica's Wray & Nephew developed a unique blend of rum. It became an iconic feature of Cayman tourism and produced the country's largest export, Tortuga Rum Cake, using a traditional recipe from his wife's family.

His other notable accomplishments included founding director of the National Building Society of the Cayman Islands, and his long tenure as honorary Jamaican consul to the Cayman Islands.

As a philanthropist Robbie was an ardent supporter of the Cayman Heart Fund, the Cayman Cancer Institute and Jackson Memorial's Miami Transplant Institute.

In 2001 Robbie was named Caribbean Entrepreneur of the Year for his roles in hospitality, manufacturing and innovative business strategy. He and his wife were recognised in 2008 with the Lifetime Achievement Award for Culinary Excellence at the Jamaica Observer Food Awards.

In 2010 the Jamaican Government awarded him the Order of Distinction (Officer Class) for outstanding service to his country.

My heartfelt condolence go out to his wonderful wife and business partner, Carlene, their family and many friends and associates.”

Hamaty is survived by his wife Carlene; daughter Monique, her husband Marcus Simmonds and their children Jayda, Nadia and Brandon; his son Basil and wife Melissa and their children Lismely, Megan and Robert Michael II; his sister Sonia; brother Frederick; sister-in-law Merle; sister Helene and brother-in-law Jack; brother Maskey and sister-in-law Gem; aunt Yolanda; nieces and nephews; cousins; and many loving friends.

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