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."