My Super Hero
Super Hero Day April 28, 2020
My Super Hero was born on this day one hundred twelve years ago. My dad, Clifton M. Cawley, was raised by a mostly-Irish father. Dad’s father was orphaned when his dad was killed while building the railroad in Del Rio, Texas. Since he was Irish his name wasn’t included in the article in the newspaper nor was there a marker for his grave. In those days the Irish were often the victims of discrimination.
The grit of the Cawley men is a testament to Texas Heroes. Dad and his brothers were strong, industrious men. His sisters were strong productive women as well.
Daddy was the second of ten children. Two died as infants. I grew up knowing all eight of the others as my aunts and uncles. Daddy was always self-conscious about his lack of education and yet he was one of the smartest men I’ve ever known. He loved learning. Even from a young age he was inventive. As an adult and an accomplished Master Machinist, he made model steam engines from scratch. I have two of them and hope to have them displayed at Gladys City Boomtown Museum in the future.
After many years working at a local refinery he and my brother started C&D Machine & Engineering on Grisby in Port Neches. And much later my late brother, Don Cawley, who inherited Daddy’s love for machines, started Sage Automation on Fannett Road in Beaumont. At Sage they design and build enormous gantry robots. You can see Dad with one of his steam engines and more history HERE. You can find several of their patents listed online.
During the Great Depression Daddy always had a job. He didn’t have much use for anyone who didn’t work. He never owned a credit card and didn’t see why anyone should. He had a very nice home built for us when I was about thirteen years old and he paid cash for every brick.
Another reason he is my Super Hero is that he carried a genetic disease, Hemochromatosis, that wasn’t diagnosed until shortly before it caused his death. It is thought to be more prominent in the Irish. He continued to work even when he hadn’t slept the night before, even when he was fatigued to the point of exhaustion and certainly when he would have preferred to go to bed. He was only 66 years old when he died in a Houston hospital. I was 27.
I can understand his fatigue because I, too, have this gene for which I am treated regularly.
Daddy had more integrity than most people you know. He had a strict personal code of ethics. Growing up I didn’t realize how unique a person he was. Now as a senior myself, I realize how exceptional a self-made man he was. On this April 28th that would have been his 112th birthday, I wish he had known how much he meant to me.