Richard Francis Caswell Sr. passed away October 24, 2017. Our loving father, beloved grandfather, and great grandfather entered eternal life peacefully in the wee hours of the morning, a time of day that he embraced as a life-long night owl.
He was born in Atlantic City, N.J. on November 10, 1926, to the late Frank and Marilla Caswell. His childhood was filled with adventures as he roamed the streets of that wild town, known then as the "World's Playground." He was a hustler and hard worker, delivering newspapers, running errands and taking on a variety of odd jobs to earn money. In many ways, his surroundings mirrored those of the television series Boardwalk Empire (yes, he had encounters with infamous political boss Enoch Lewis "Nucky" Johnson, who the series' main character is based on).
As a Great Depression child, he learned the value of thrift early. In his later years, he would spend countless hours on his bicycle scouting trash cans, dumpsters and the back of businesses for discarded tools, office supplies, equipment, furniture… and money (which he collected, then deposited in the bank at the end of each year).
After serving in the U.S. Navy during World War II, he returned to Atlantic City, where he worked beside his father as a pressman at the Atlantic City Press. He met and married Elizabeth Jane Haney, the love of his life, in 1951. Together, they raised seven children, and moved from Atlantic City after he accepted a job as a pressman at Triangle Publications' rotogravure plant in Philadelphia (where Parade, Seventeen, TV Guide and many other publications were printed). When that closed shop, he became a pressman at the Philadelphia Inquirer.
He was a proud union member, and flashed his traveler's pressman's card to us often, boasting that it allowed him to work in any pressroom in the nation (not that the would ever think of moving, he was a professed homebody who dismissed all ideas of travel, although his wife did manage to get him on more than a few planes to places such as Los Angeles, Las Vegas, and New Orleans). He loved showing off the massive printing presses to us on rare family tours of the plant and taught us how to make the traditional, paper pressman's hat from a page of newsprint.
Like his wife, Richard was deeply invested in community. When he wasn't working single, double or triple shifts, he was active in local politics, and served on the Somerdale (NJ) planning commission and school board (the latter, for more than 35 years). When he retired from the school board, they gifted him with, what else?, a bicycle. One of many he owned, including a tandem that his children took turns borrowing at one time or another.
Although he did not graduate from high school (he dropped out to join the Navy, getting his parents' permission to enlist since he was under age) he was a life-long learner. He was an avid history buff who devoured biographies and other nonfiction, and was always on top of the news, especially political news.
He adored chocolate (dark, please), coffee (with EVERY meal), Christmas (the more the merrier; tinsel hung one strand at a time) and classical music. He often had the radio tuned to Philadelphia's classical music station as he whiled away hours in the garage or recreation room stripping wire for recycling, and sorting through his stash to see what could actually be used. Although we often rolled our eyes at his obsession with trash picking, he was a man ahead of his time, "upcycling" objects decades before the term came into vogue.
He was preceded in death by his parents; sister Barbara Caswell; wife Elizabeth J. Caswell (nee Haney); daughter Cynthia Caswell Aitken; and son David Caswell. He is survived by his sister Marilla Harmer of Ontario, Canada; his children Richard F. Caswell Jr. (Ann) of Turnersville, NJ; Sara Caswell-Pearce (Mark) of Cincinnati, OH; Helen Abrams (Ron) of Boyertown, PA; John Caswell (Mary) of Collingswood, NJ; and Matthew Caswell (Barbara) of Philadelphia, PA. He was blessed with 13 grandchildren and 12 great grandchildren. All of whom will miss him greatly.
Relatives and friends are invited to attend his viewing and visitation on Saturday 9-10am at EUGENE J. ZALE FUNERAL HOME, INC. 712 N. White Horse Pike, Stratford, NJ 08084. PH (856) 783-5100. Funeral service 10am. Burial following in Harleigh Cemetery, Camden. In lieu of flowers, contributions may be made in Richard's memory to the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society, NJ Chapter 14, Commerce Dr., Suite 301, Cranford, NJ 07016.