Robert Nelson Caid Memorial Web Page

July 4th, 1921 - July 10th, 2013
Posted 20130711

Memorial Services will be held for Robert Caid on
10 August, 2013 at 10:00AM
at the
Northwest Community Church
505 W. Hardy Road
Tucson, AZ 85704

In lieu of flowers, donations should be sent to
Casa de la Luz Foundation
7740 N. Oracle Road
Tucson, AZ 85704

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Quick Links:  Obituary   Eulogy  Caid Family   War Years   Family Business   Fishing   Later Years

The Remembrance

Ceremony and tradition are what define us as being human.  No known animal ceremony exists, so this experience renders us uniquely human.  It is tradition that compels me to create this page to remember my father, Robert Nelson Caid, as a way to encapsulate his life.  Dad passed away early yesterday morning after a 2 month battle with cancer.  While I am saddened by that event, I was relieved by the knowledge that his passing provided relief from the discomfort of his disease.  Later, I was actually filled with joy once I had accumulated the facts of his life and assembled them into this memorial.  This act put his life in clear focus, and in a succinct way, forced me to view his life and death through a larger lens than is normally possible when thinking only about the living.  My recollections of Bob were naturally limited to the time that we spent together while we both were alive.  But the creation of the obituary and scanning of old photos caused me to think a bit harder about the times when he was alive and I was not yet born and the experiences he had when we were not together.

The Obituary

Robert Nelson Caid Obituary

July 4, 1921 - July 10, 2013


Robert (Bob) Nelson Caid passed away on July 10, 2013 after a short but valiant battle with cancer. He will be missed by his surviving family, friends and work associates. He lived a long, healthy life of 92 years and was still active in his garden until finally being incapacitated by his cancer.

Bob was the husband of Callie E. Caid, father to William R. Caid and step-father to Susan Porter, Sandy Woods and Nancy Zelenack. 

Born of Thomas A. Caid and Teresa Swyers on July 4, 1921 in Lowell, AZ, Bob was the second youngest of the Caid sons which consisted of (in birth order) Thomas, Arthur (Butch), Earl, Bob and Jim. Bob's father, Thomas A. Caid, a pioneer in Southern Arizona sheet metal, started a business in Bisbee, AZ in 1917. Later in Tucson, in conjunction with a partner, "Hearn and Caid Sheet Metal" was formed in 1927. In 1947 T.A. Caid and Sons was founded.

Bob graduated from Tucson High School and learned to fly in the civilian aviation program during early college.  After receiving his pilot's license, he enlisted in the U.S. Army Air Corps (USAAC) in January of 1941 as a pilot cadet.  Upon completion of his training program he earned his commission as a second Lieutenant and was deployed to the European Theater.  During his war-time missions Bob flew both Mark 5 and Mark 8 Spitfire fighters with USAAC.  Bob saw combat action in North Africa, Malta (as part of the invasion of Sicily), Sicily and Italy flying a total of 114 missions against the Axis powers. He participated in the Salerno, Anzio and Cassino campaigns frequently flying from beachhead positions.

In early May, 1944 as part of the Anzio campaign, Bob engaged a flight of Focke-Wulf 190 aircraft intent on attacking Allied soldiers on the beachhead. Outnumbered 2:1, he expertly piloted his Spitfire against the Axis aircraft scoring one confirmed kill and thwarting the enemy attack. For these efforts, Bob was awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross.  Bob was also awarded the Air Medal with 8 Oak Leaf Clusters.

On his return to stateside he met his first wife, Mary Sue Feaster, in Sarasota, FL.  They were married in 1944 and they gave birth to their only son William in 1953.  Sue later died in 1965.  Shortly after her death, Bob was introduced to his current wife Callie by mutual friends.  They were married shortly thereafter.

In addition to being a combat pilot of the Mark 8 Spitfire, Bob was also a P-51 Mustang instructor pilot at Biggs Field near El Paso, TX.  Finally attaining the rank of Captain, U.S. Army Air Corps, he retired to civilian life in 1945 and returned to complete his Mechanical Engineering degree from the University of Arizona graduating in 1951.  He was a brother in the Sigma Chi fraternity at UofA.  After brief employment stints in Syracuse, NY and Glendale, CA, Bob returned to T.A. Caid and Sons, the family business, where he assumed a major role in the operation of the company. 

Bob took over as President of Caid and Sons in 1974 and during his stewardship expanded the business from sheet metal only to light steel design and fabrication services for Tucson's mining industry.  Bob was key at Caid and Sons in starting work with the mining industries during the 1960’s.  The firm grew from $5 million sales and 40 employees in 1974 to its current size of 250 employees and $40-50 million in sales worldwide. Caid and Sons, currently CAID Industries, is a major force in Tucson's economy and one of the city's largest employers.

Bob retired in 1983 to devote himself to his family and personal pursuits. In his later years Bob and Callie traveled the world enjoying life to its fullest. In addition to travel outside North America, Bob and Callie logged over 250,000 miles in their fifth wheel trailer exploring the United States, Canada and Mexico. He was an avid fisherman and caught many kinds of game fish out of La Paz, Mexico and Kona, HI.

Bob and his surviving wife Callie were active members of Northwest Community Church in Oro Valley. He will be best remembered by his friends and associates for his peanut brittle, world-class watermelons and his ability to recite Rudyard Kipling's “Gunga Din” from memory.

Rest in peace.  A memorial service for Bob will be held at Northwest Community Church, 505 West Hardy Road, Tucson, AZ 85704 at 10:00AM on 10 August 2013.  Donations should be sent to Casa de la Luz Hospice, 7740 N. Oracle, Tucson, AZ 85704

The Eulogy

Eulogy for Robert Nelson Caid

Tradition and ceremony are what differentiates us from animals and it is in this spirit that we are here today.  For those who do not know me, I am Bill Caid, Bob's only son.

I am not here to lament his passing but rather to take solace in a life well lived. Bob passed away on July Tenth, 2013, 6 days after his birthday. But, it is necessary to put this event into perspective; Bob lived a long, healthy life, just over 92 happy and productive years.  While his decline and demise were painful for those who witnessed it, was thankfully rapid relative to some of his contemporaries.  He did not suffer from dementia, was pain-free and lucid until the end. For that we are thankful.

Bob's passing reinforces a credo that he taught me when I was young. This credo is:

“Have fun now. Unlike fine wine, life does not necessarily get better with age. So, find your passion and do it now.”

Bob and his wife Callie lived by this credo and they traveled extensively, both domestically and internationally. He boasted that they traveled over a quarter million miles in their fifth wheel trailer over the years.  As his eyesight and mobility degraded near the end, I asked him where else he wanted to go and he replied that he was satisfied with their travels and he felt that he had seen all that he wanted to see, all that he could see. Mission accomplished.

Dad was an honorable man. He served with distinction in WWII. He instilled in me his moral framework on both personal interactions and business dealings.  In short, Bob was honorable and fair almost to a fault. He described to me several instances where his personal honor code cost him dearly in his dealings with others who had no such code. He was not bitter about it, but rather told me that there were lessons to be learned from each of these experiences.

Dad was not vindictive, but far from it. I recall an experience when I was young and we were hunting birds together at Willow Springs Ranch near Oracle. While traipsing through the brush, I got a cholla bud stuck on my calf. Using two sticks like chopsticks, I pulled the bud out and unthinkingly threw it over my shoulder. The bud firmly embedded itself in Dad's forehead. Removing it was quite a painful chore, but he showed patience and good nature about the situation.

As his son being tasked with this eulogy, I was challenged to find a succinct way to describe him. After some thought, I concluded that Bob could best be summarized by the acronym PEP: Persistent, Exacting and Perplexing.  As you might expect, these attributes could be both endearing and confounding at the same time. So, illustrate this, I will share a few examples that will help illuminate these qualities.

Dad was an avid gardener. His relentless pursuit of that hobby was a wonder to behold. His initial interest back in the late 60's was focused on citrus trees. Through his grafting techniques, he bio-engineered several trees that had multiple kinds of citrus fruit on the same trunk. Lemons, grapefruit, oranges and tangelo. A remarkable and unique accomplishment that spanned many years.

After Dad met Callie, they decided to move to another house. That move would require abandoning his prize tree – unless the tree could somehow be moved. Dad did move the tree successfully, although there was blood spilt. His blood. During the move, I tripped over a portion of the A-frame crane that was being used to extract the tree, causing it to fall on Dad's head and resulting in an ugly cut and profuse bleeding. Undaunted, the move proceeded apace until the tree was in its new home. This was persistence.

Several weeks later, the previous owner of the new home passed by and noted the presence of a fruit tree in his old backyard and disclosed in passing that they had put many gallons of arsenic trioxide in the ground there to prevent weeds. This was precisely the ground that the prize tree occupied. The solution? Change the all the dirt in that portion of the backyard. Once the excavation was complete, the prize tree was isolated on a small pillar of dirt in a hole 30x50x6 feet deep. The area was then filled with un-contaminated soil. This was definitely persistence.

But soon thereafter we moved leaving the prize tree behind. This was perplexing.

Later, when we moved into the new house, it was in the Sabino Canyon area with the near-by hills studded with sahauros. There was also a sahauro right next to the front door of the house. But, it was too close to the door for Dad. So, he hired a crew and a crane and moved the cactus 6 inches to the left, thereby attaining his geometric sense of perfection. Exacting.

Later at another house on Camino de Oeste, he built an enclosure large enough to allow him to have his fruit trees and protect them from the birds and desert animals. The structure was large and required high maintenance, but was fully effective. The structure even included custom radiant heaters designed to prevent his crops from freezing. These consisted of custom sheet metal boxes and natural gas burners. Very exacting.

In his later years, as motivation and ability to travel declined, Dad turned to yard work and his gardening as the primary outlet for his energies. Keeping the Sonoran desert floor around the Oro Valley house free of pointy cactus debris was a full time job in and of itself, but he attacked it with the same level of persistence that he used for other tasks. Later, when the cactus was under control, he focused on watermelons and grew a few melons that were so big that he had to fabricate a special tool to measure their length. Definitely exacting.

Bob was an avid fisherman and pursued his passion with vigor over the years, fishing many locations in Mexico and Hawaii. And he was quite successful and along the way causing several newspaper articles that extolled the size of the fish that he caught. One broadbill marlin was 404 pounds, a near-record size.

I went on a number of trips with him in Mexico and he always had fun, even if the weather was bad or the fish were not biting.

The most powerful lesson that Dad taught me was that we are masters of our own fate. Our actions determine our destiny. That lesson made me take note of something I saw on the wall of my fraternity when I was at the U of A; it is a poem by R.L Sharpe

Isn’t it strange that princes and kings, and clowns that caper in sawdust rings,
And common people Like you and me are builders for eternity?

Each is given a bag of tools, A shapeless mass; A book of rules,
And each must make - Ere life is flown- A stumbling block or a steppingstone.

I will miss my Dad for the rest of my life, but I do not morn his passing. Rather I take pride in the fact that he was my father. And I take solace in the fact that he had a life well lived.  He provided me with good guidance and love. For that, I am eternally grateful.

Rest in peace.

The Caid Family

The Caid family came to Tucson around 1920 and became established in the sheet metal business.  Today, the business endures, now called Caid Industries.  Sadly, there appears to be a large hole in the family photo album and I was unable to find many photos of the early years.

It all started here with Thomas Arthur Caid and his sheet metal business in Bisbee, AZ.  T.A. and his wife Teresa Swyers gave birth to Bob on the 4th of July, 1921 in Lowell, AZ.

Thomas Arthur Caid, family patriarch and Bob's father.  Born 9/18/1886 in Bellevue, ID.

Teresa Swyer Caid, Bob's mom.  She was as dour as the photo makes her look.  But, you would be dour too after raising 5 wild sons and no daughters.  Born of William Henry Swyer (1846) and Amanda B. Baca (1875) in 5/8/1891 in Santa Fe.  Her linage is Spanish and she was a descendant of the Baca family of New Mexico traveling to Southern Arizona around the turn of the century on a wagon train from Santa Fe, NM.  The Baca (AKA Vaca) family has been traced back to Mexico City and Toledo, Spain to 1516 (+/-).

The Caid family: (L-R rear) Earl, Alice, James, Bob, Sue (first wife), Gertrude, Tom, Genie, Arthur (Butch).  Sitting are Thomas A. and Teresa.  This photo was taken at a 1957 company ten year anniversary celebration held at the shop on Eight Street in Tucson.  That shop still stands today.  The Quonset hut that served as the main work area is now a bar appropriately called "The Hut".

The War Years

As part of the "near the end" experience, we discovered an old zippered brief case that contained documents from Dad's service in the Army Air Corps during WWII.  We reviewed these documents for items of interest and with Kathleen's help, we scanned these into JPEG photos for inclusion in this web page.

 A newspaper photo of Bob after a return from a mission.

Arizona Daily Star newspaper reporting of the kill.

The orders for the award of the Distinguished Flying Cross in recognition of valor and success in air combat.

The squadron commander pins the Distinguished Flying Cross (DFC) medal on Bob.  This is an official Army Air Corps photo, complete with stamp on the back.

Congratulations from the unit commander for a job well done.

In addition to the DFC, Bob received a series of awards for service in combat.  These awards, called the "Air Medal" result from meritorious actions during combat.  When additional instances of valor are recognized and the recipient already has the medal, it is referred to as an Oak Leaf Cluster that is appended to the medal.

The two scans above describe the post-operation debrief concerning the shoot-down events that resulted in the DFC.

A clipping from the Stars and Stripes newspaper that describes the action.  Note that the clipping was reviewed and passed by the Army censors and is complete with misspelling of the last name ("Caide" as opposed to "Caid").

Award of the Air Medal (the first time).

Orders for two additional Oak Leaf Clusters.

 8 Oak Leaf Clusters were awarded so including the original medal the total was 9 awards.

Another newspaper story about Bob's military career.

The final tally of hours flown in the Spitfire with the 307th including the record of the kill.

After combat duty, Bob was assigned as an instructor pilot for the P-51 Mustang fighter.  This is a photo of one of his classes upon graduation at Biggs Field near El Paso, TX.

After Bob returned home, he married Mary Sue Feaster and produced what eventually turned out to be a success: me.  This photo would have been taken in 1953 or 1954.

The Family Business

This press brake was installed the year after I was born.  I recall it being so heavy that it required a special foundation in the building as well as special trucks to carry it from the rail siding to the shop on 8th Street in Tucson.  Note that Bob is at the left of the photo.

After the war, Bob returned to college at the University of Arizona completing a degree in mechanical engineering.  After several jobs on the east coast, he returned to Tucson to re-join T.A. Caid and Sons Sheet Metal, the family business.  In 1974, he assumed the role of president of the corporation and led the expansion of the business into the mining industry.  Today, under the stewardship of Bill Assenmacher, CAID Industries is a $50 million multinational business.

The old T. A. Caid building on 8th street has been sold.

The new facility is huge.  This is the entrance to the main building with Kathleen standing near the wall.

An aerial view of CAID Industries' Tucson facility.


Dad was a sportsman.  He hunted deer, quail and doves and he fished.  And fished.  And fished.  His favorite destination was La Paz, MX in Baja California back in the days before it was "gingo-ized".  Early on, he and his buddies traveled to Guymas and Mazatlan on the Sea of Cortez via car or train.  During those fishing expeditions, he had good success on the larger bill fishes (marlin, sailfish, etc.).

This is an undated article out of the local Tucson newspaper.  After Bob's first wife Sue passed away, a business associate and fellow fisherman, Allen Hansen, introduced Bob to Callie.  They married soon thereafter.

On a trip to Hawaii in 1984, Bob caught this whopper broadbill marlin.  It was a near-record and was reported in the local sports news.

Bob took Sue and Dan Porter (Callie's youngest daughter and husband) to Cabo for some billfishing and they caught this nice specimen.

This is a wahoo that Bob caught from a panga out of La Paz, BCS, MX.  The captain is Juan Maldonado.

On another trip to La Paz (again with Juan Maldonado) Bob caught this Blue marlin.

Give a man a fish and you will feed him for a day.  Teach a man to fish and he will sit in a boat drinking beer all day. A two-fisted drinker, even at 84 years of age.

Later Years

Bob's first wife, Sue, died in the mid-sixties.  Bob was "hooked up" on a blind date by a business associate and fishing buddy, Allen Hansen with a nice gal.  They hit it off immediately and things went from there and culminated in a marriage that lasted to his death, over 40 years.  They were still married at the time of his death.

A professional photo, likely at a resort or hotel; date and location unknown.

Callie and Bob, likely on vacation somewhere.  Date unknown.

Business giveth and business taketh away.  Bob and Callie decided to build a custom home on a hill northeast of Tucson.  After the home was completed and all major costs incurred, business went south.  The house had to be sold below market price to help salvage the business.  The tragedy was that the house only had two bedrooms since that was all they needed (master and guest) and for the number of square feet under roof, buyers expected many bedrooms.  Indeed, the final buyer did major rework to add bedrooms for his children.

The signature of the house was a high, sloping roof line that ended in a massive fireplace made of copper ore.  While the motif of the furniture clearly dates the interior decorating, it was an excellent execution of a great idea.

As time passed and business improved, Bob and Callie built on a 40 acre plot they had and sold excess acreage to pay for the construction.  Learning quickly from the burden of "custom" homes, they built a reasonably pedestrian 3 bedroom, 2 bath house with a pool, bath house and a large covered carport.  Later, that house was "traded up" for another residence that was to provide the last residence.  In conjunction with Callie's youngest daughter, they purchased an awesome place in the shadows of the Santa Catalina mountains in Oro Valley, AZ near Tucson.

Somebody with a helicopter was selling photos of houses in the area, so Bob and Dan purchased a copy.  Clearly before Google Earth.  Circa 2007.

And the view from the backyard did not suck either.  Pusch Ridge of the Santa Catalina Mountains north of Tucson is in the distance.

Time takes its toll on all of us, some more than others.  Bob seemed to be relatively immune to the passage of time and remained active until the last few weeks.

Bob at a tour of Caid Industries facilities it Tucson,  2007.

Age did take its toll on Bob's vision and he had to have specialized glasses to read in dim light.  Metropolitan Grill, Tucson, AZ, 2006.

Callie and Bob at her 90th birthday party at the Oro Valley house.  Note the photos on the wall.

Bob doing what he loved best: working in the yard.

Undaunted by physical labor, the photo above shows Dad sifting new soil during preparation of his garden at the Oro Valley house. He was in his late eighties when this photo was taken.

While the end of life is sad, the course of life is a joy.  And Bob had a great life full of unique experiences and people that cared for him.  He will be missed but not forgotten.

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