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News : Local Last Updated: Apr 13, 2017 - 1:21:25 PM


Pan American Airways founder and wife leave legacy that aids South Eleuthera long after their death
By Inderia Saunders
Apr 13, 2017 - 1:13:56 PM

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ELEUTHERA, Bahamas — A legacy started by the late founders of Pan American World Airways Juan & Betty Trippe has jump-started a movement in South Eleuthera that is giving back in a way the two never imagined – with their grandson stepping in to pick up the charitable mantle left behind after their passing.

William “Doug” Douglass didn’t realize that a seemingly small project he undertook would have residents of the South Eleuthera community of Wemyss Bight reminiscing of a time when his grandparents made it their personal mission to make South Eleuthera the next best destination for the world.

After noting that the children at the Wemyss Bight Primary School had no real playground, Douglass’ made a decision to gift a near $200,000 state-of-the-art recreational court with a basketball/volleyball court and 9-feet high rock climbing facility.

“Even though I have homes all over the world, the one in Wemyss Bight means the most to me. My grandparents loved it here and this is where I am the most, so giving back to this community is my most sincere pleasure,” said Douglass. “It comes without thought.”

However, this legacy of giving is one that has family friend Nola Brown - mother of Bahamian Olympian Chris Brown – remembering a time when other members of the Trippe lineage came into town and touched the lives of many Bahamians.

“The Trippes hired me at the age of 15-years-old,” said the 64-year-old Brown. “I looked after Doug since he was a baby and anybody who is 30 years old and older would know what this family has done for the community.

“I don’t mean just now with the things you see going on, but in the past. They were stalwarts of the community who employed many Eleutherans and I am glad to see that “Doug” is doing the same.”

Mr. Douglass’ grandparents, the Trippes, are well known throughout South Eleuthera for their benevolence and are responsible for many innovations on the island.

Including a world-class marina, the airport in Rock Sound and a power facility that brought light to the community in the 1950’s. The contribution of this first power station brought the community into a new time with many new economic opportunities opening up.

By the 1970’s, there were four vibrant club communities operating in Eleuthera, including the Winding Bay Club and The Rock Sound Club. Then there was the Cape Eleuthera, which had a championship golf course and the best marina in all Bahamas. This and more was all because of Mr. and Mrs. Trippe’s determination to invest in the community, remembers many residents. These endeavors provided jobs for the community for many years, according to Douglass.

Mr. Trippe founded Pan American World Airways, and under his direction, the airline became the first to fly across the Pacific and the Atlantic Oceans, the first to put American-made jets into commercial use and the first to order the Boeing 747. Pan Am created the first successful jet routes one from New York City to Nassau and one from Miami to Nassau. It was ground breaking and made it cost effective for Bahamians to fly round trip for less than twenty dollars from Nassau to Miami. The New York Times counts him as one of the most influential Americans of all time. But the people of South Eleuthera remembers him and his wife as more. Legends.

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