Single Moms-This is a personal post from Gail, Founder of SMORE for Women
No single mom post today as I grieve the loss of my big brother, Don Cawley. He died July 11th, and our family is working through this time of sorrow as we try to celebrate all that he meant to each of us.
Words from Gail, shared at the funeral:
Don was twelve when I came along. I figured out pretty quickly he would have preferred a brother as he called me “Little Girl” until I was a grown woman.
I knew from a young age that Don thought I talked too much. Once he had a new stopwatch and he put me to the test. He challenged me to keep my mouth shut for “one minute.” He discovered that I was not only talkative, I was stubborn and up to the challenge. Another young memory was when he came to pick me up from elementary school in the pink car he had designed and built in our backyard. My classmates were so impressed.
As I grew up I came to realize my big brother was exceptional, especially when people meeting me would say, “Oh, are you Don Cawley’s little sister?”
I had great respect for his accomplishments. We visited an open house when he was attending Lamar and saw a writing machine he had designed and built that wrote out the word “Tech.” I was amazed.
Not only did I respect his mechanical abilities, I admired his strong Christian values and integrity. His generous spirit touched many lives.
After I went through a divorce, I recall a late night Christmas Eve when he came over to help me assemble a racetrack which was too much for me. That may have been the Christmas he and Lyska showed up with bicycles for my children. Don held a special place in the hearts of my children.
Another touching memory of mine was when Don brought me home from the hospital after surgery, a surgery he helped pay for.
Sam and I will treasure more recent memories when Don and Camille joined us for a trip to Galveston for a weekend and other dinners, though too few, that he and Camille shared with us.
I consider it a genuine honor to have been “Don Cawley’s little sister.”
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Gail’s Editorial as it appeared in the Beaumont Enterprise, Sunday, July 15th.
Don Cawley died July 11 and left a void in this community. His mechanical genius may have touched your life and you not have known it.
From my earliest memories there was a machine shop in our backyard on Port Neches Avenue. Someone painted a C&D on the old wooden door, C for Cliff, his dad, and D for Don, my big brother.
I knew I had an extraordinary brother by the reactions of my classmates when he picked me up from elementary school one day in the full-sized car he had made from scratch. It was pink with no doors. You had to climb into it, but it ran like any other car. The leftover fiberglass he used remained in our attic for years afterwards. Always creating, he painted murals for the Tepee Club and worked at a body shop in his early college years.
Later I had to tiptoe through the house while he studied for English tests at Lamar State College of Technology. Our dad insisted that his son would get a college degree and Don proved to be an excellent student in all things mechanical. During those years he worked for Ohmstede’s Machine Shop and became their first engineer. He graduated from Lamar in 1958 with a degree in mechanical engineering.
After college he worked in Chicago for the Continental Can Company in Research and Development until he came home to start his own business in partnership with our dad. Of course it was named C&D Machine & Engineering and was located on Grisby in Port Neches.
He became a Professional Engineer. One early success was the design and manufacture of the machine that rolled and perforated the Playtex® baby bottle liners. The business worked on many jobs for area refineries. Don developed the machine, which produced plastic bags for Rainbow bread. He also designed the machine, which wound Teflon pipe sealing tape. He continued to invent and build machines and holds at least 11 patents, five of them co-invented with his son, Cliff, who is named after his grandfather.
He eventually sold the C&D name to Ohmstede’s and continued his passion as Director of Research and Development at Sage Automation, Inc., which he opened in 1995 along with Cliff, Director of Engineering, and his friend Steve Ingraham, the owner of I-Corp, Inc. located on Fannett Road. Don pioneered the Gantry Robots. Last week the largest robot they have ever built, the size of a football field, was shipped on seven huge eighteen-wheelers to TW EUROFIT, which services the BMW automobile plant in South Carolina.
Don “flunked retirement” as his wife, Camille, put it and he worked until shortly before his recent illness.
He was a deep-thinking Christian and an avid reader. Southeast Texas has lost a brilliant mind and a big-hearted man. And I lost my big brother.
To learn more about his professional accomplishments visit SAGE Automation, Inc.