My Super Hero

From Humble Beginnings

Super Hero Day April 28, 2022 

My Super Hero was born on this day one hundred fourteen 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. 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.

Clifton M. Cawley, my dad 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. He became fascinated with machinery while helping his dad work on the two cotton gins that his dad owned. As an adult and an accomplished Master Machinist, he made model steam engines from scratch. They will soon be on permanent display at Spindletop Gladys City Boomtown Museum. 

After many years working at a local refinery he and my brother started C&D Machine in Port Neches. The C for Clifton and the D for Don. And much later my late brother, Don Cawley, who inherited Daddy’s love for machines, started Sage Automation on Fannett Road in Beaumont where they design and build enormous gantry robots.

During the Great Depression he 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 often referred to be an Irish Curse.  He was only 66 years old. I was 27. 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.

I can understand this because I, too, have this disease for which I am treated regularly.

Daddy had more integrity than most people you know. He had a strict personal code of ethics. Now as a senior myself, I realize how exceptional he was. On this April 28th that would have been his 114th birthday, I wish he had known how much he meant to me.


  1. Bruce Dement · · Reply

    I CAN ONLY AGREE WITH EVERYTHING YOU HAVE SAID. As one of his sons in law he was as much a dad as my own . I have never known such acceptance as was given to me when I came into the family. I still miss he and Exia

  2. Such kind words from my daughter make me wish even more that my children could have known him.

  3. Nancy DeForest · · Reply

    What a fine tribute to your Dad! You got his grit!!

  4. The integrity, grit, determination and drive ALL three of your children have is pure evidence of the Irish leniage left by the great man that was our Grandfather. I’m sure he’s sitting in some mechanical marvel of a palace up there with his first born son and my industrious Grandmother saying…”well done D’Anna Gail… a/k/a “Little Bit”…. WELL DONE! You have accomplished much, perservered beyond measure and raised a village who’s children are now shining bright, bright lights into this grey world. You are spectacular. Your Daddy would be SO proud. Happy birthday Grandpaw Cawley.

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