ASHTABULA — Robert Philip Cary, age 94, of Ashtabula, died Tuesday, Dec. 18, 2012.
He was born Oct. 18, 1918, in Stockton, N.Y., to Flora (Tanner) and Philip Cary. His happiest childhood memory was a 1920's road trip with his parents and brother to every state in America. At age 16, he moved to Ashtabula to cook in his father's diner on Main Street where he often fed free tomato soup to men fleeing the Great Depression by "riding the rails." He married Edith Austin on June 2, 1940.
He served as Army Staff Sergeant in the 76th Infantry Division in the European Theatre where he fought the Battle of the Bulge, earning three bronze stars, a World War II Victory Medal, and a Combat Infantryman badge. A young officer overheard Bob, early in his military career, complaining about the quality of military food. He was told that if he thought he could do a better job, get in the kitchen. He did, on both counts, and thus began his love of cooking and baking. At holiday dinners, his marinades were superb, topped only by his oyster dressing and cinnamon rolls. His grandsons looked forward to breakfast with Grandpa to enjoy his artistic pancake shapes.
In 1956, he and his brother built the family home on the old Austin farm along the Ashtabula Gulf.
A self-educated man, Bob was a True Temper sales representative, later founding Robert P. Cary, Inc., a sporting goods representative company serving the Midwest. His passion for fishing helped him excel in the sales of tackle, rods and reels, where he gained such respect that large accounts like K-Mart insisted on working exclusively through him for all their stores. Many people got to know him at the annual Cleveland Sportsman Show. He was an expert outdoorsman and entertained top corporate executives from throughout the country. He also owned a diversified holding company with commercial property and oil and gas production interests. Everyone loved Bob's stories, of which he had many, similar to the movie "Big Fish."
Bob served on the Board of Directors for the Commercial Bank and the Lake County National Bank. He was a member of Elks Lodge 208 and the Masonic Temple, achieving the 32nd degree.
He was a former member of the Evangelical United Methodist Church and the Harbor United Methodist Church where he served on several committees and was a current member of the Second Congregational Church of Christ.
He is survived by his beloved wife, Edith; children, Richard (Daisy) Cary of Arizona, Susan (Jeffrey) Leist of Concord, Debra Cary of Saybrook and Denise (Alan) Schiff of Pepper Pike; grandsons, Jason Cary, Evan Tobias, Kent and Kyle Sinkler, and Matthew Schiff; great-grandson, Logan Cary; sister, Rowena (Dick) McAdoo; sisters-in-law, Marilyn Cary and Evelyn Austin; former son-in-law, Scot Sinkler; and several loving nephews and nieces, including Beverly DeGregorio, who was like a daughter to him.
He was preceded in death by his brother, Martin Cary; and a granddaughter, Ericka Sinkler.
The family thanks the staff of Country Club Retirement Center and Hospice of the Western Reserve for their extraordinary love and care during his illness.
Bob's life was full of real-world experience, and he was genuinely friendly, generous, loyal, and deeply loved and respected by all who knew him.
Service will be 11 a.m., Saturday, Dec. 22nd, at the Ashtabula Home of FLEMING & BILLMAN FUNERAL DIRECTORS, 526 W. Prospect Road, Ashtabula, with Pastor Gaius Forlu, of New Hope Pentecostal Church, officiating. Burial will be at Ridgeview Cemetery, Austinburg Road, with American Legion Post #103 conducting Military Rites.
Memorial contributions may be made to Hospice of the Western Reserve, 1166 Lake Ave. Ashtabula, Ohio 44004.
Guest Book and obituary at fleming-billman.com and starbeacon.com.