On Aug. 30, 2008, Richard Cain, 60, of Suttons Bay, and a dedicated medical team at Munson Medical Center lost their courageous battle to combat multiple organ failure of sudden, unexpected onset. The loving families and communities to which Rich belonged lost a devoted, compassionate man whose humility, willingness to listen and capacity for fun endeared him to many, many people.
Rich was born in Trenton, N.J., Oct. 4, 1947, the third of four children born to the late Robert B. and Doris (Oliver) Cain. He recalled a “great childhood” growing up in a Detroit neighborhood surrounded by peers he thoroughly enjoyed.
It was in Detroit that he became an active member of Westminster Presbyterian Church, its youth group and its summer camp on Higgins Lake. Rich’s experience at Camp Westminster prepared him in 1977 to begin summer work with the State of Michigan as a Camp Licensing Consultant, a position from which he planned retirement in 2008. Rich considered himself extremely fortunate to work toward providing, in cooperation with his fellow consultants and the staff members of “his” camps, for the safety of children in beautiful northern Michigan settings.
Rich earned a Bachelor of Arts from Alma College in 1970, and with the support of his church was subsequently enrolled in the Presbyterian Seminary, Louisville, Ky., until the death of his sister, Barbara, led him to return home as comfort to his parents. For the remainder of his life, he lived his faith in caring for loved ones and responding to the needs of others, especially children. Rich began a career in special education on the childcare staff at Hawthorn Center (Northville) before earning a Master of Arts in the College of Education from Eastern Michigan University in 1977.
While employed at Hawthorn Center, Rich worked alongside and subsequently married Cheryl Ann Eldridge at Westminster Presbyterian Church in Detroit on April 9, 1977. They relocated to Leelanau County the following fall when Rich accepted a teaching position in the Northport Schools. Aside from missing family and friends downstate, Rich never regretted trading the pace of urban life for the more manageable rhythms up north.
Richard continued his career in special education as a teacher and teacher consultant for TBAISD from 1981 until his retirement in August this year. During that time the network of persons with whom he served expanded to include school staff, families and children in the Kalkaska, Buckley and Leelanau County Public and Parochial Schools. As in his camp licensing position, he valued and was valued by those in all positions within the school systems. While a teacher in the TBAISD New Campus program, the Michigan Assn. of Teachers of Emotionally Disturbed Children recognized Rich as Teacher of the Year.
Rich and Cheryl built a home and life together in Bingham Township, a life forever blessed by the birth of their daughter, Leslie, and son, Brett. As a father, Rich was a loving presence in every aspect of his children’s lives, providing discipline and support, coaching them, applauding them and holding them close to him. In recent years he was honored to see his children choose careers in human service upon completion of their university educations. Rich expressed in every contact with family his love for each of us and received ours in full measure.
He is survived by loving family members; wife, Cheryl Cain of Suttons Bay; children, Leslie Cain of Portage and Brett Cain of Fort Collins, Colo.; brother, Robert (Mary Ellen) Cain of Ann Arbor; sister, Mary Ann (Patrick) Herek of Brighton; sister-in-law and brother-in-law, Karen and Norman Peters of Brighton; special cousins, D. Jeffrey (Teena) Cain of Parker, Colo., and Barry Cain and his partner, Pete Owens of Virginia Beach, Va.; together with the nieces, nephews and additional cousins with whom he shared mutual affection across time and distance.
In addition to his parents and sister, Rich was preceded in death by loving parents-in-law, Don and Lucille Eldridge.