Robert L. McCaul passed away on February 9 at Westwood Rehabilitation Center in Keene where the staff comforted him and treated him with care and compassion in his final days. Mr. McCaul, known to his family and friends as "Bob," was born on June 25, 1942 in Billings Hospital in Chicago. He attended public schools in his Hyde Park neighborhood in Chicago and graduated from Hyde Park high school in 1960. From an early age, Bob displayed an interest in engineering, mechanics, and architectural drawing, and these became lifelong interests.
After high school, Bob joined the U.S. Air Force and because of his mechanical aptitude quickly distinguished himself as an airplane mechanic. Because of his mechanical ability and attention to detail, Bob had the authority to decide whether planes were mechanically sound and safe to fly. While he was stationed at a number of air force bases, he spent most of his time at Morone Air Force Base in Spain. Bob loved the Spanish culture, and used Spanish words and phrases throughout his life. He also enjoyed traveling in Europe and spoke often of his experiences in Germany, Sweden, and Switzerland.
After five years of service, Bob returned to Chicago to study for the air frame mechanics test which would have allowed him to work on commercial airplanes. He also studied architectural drawing in Arizona as his goal was to become a draftsman. In Arizona, Bob's lifelong affliction, schizophrenia, was manifest and dominated the remainder of his adult life. Bob spent most of his adult life in institutions; a majority of his life was spent at North Chicago Veteran's Administration Hospital where he received a number of treatments in hopes alleviating the pain that accompanied his disability. With support of his family and friends, Bob was able to live in a number of group homes in Wisconsin and Massachusetts. After he began to suffer from a number of physical ailments, Bob needed the level of physical care that required his living in nursing homes rather than group homes, and his final home was Westwood Rehabilitation Center in Keene. Westwood was truly a second home and up to his final days Bob spoke of Westwood staff as his family.
Bob spent much of his life dealing with hallucinations, and as he would say "my voices." These manifestations of schizophrenia led to Bob experiencing a great deal of mental pain for the duration of his adult life. In spite of his mental demons, Bob had a generous, loving heart and a gentle, caring spirit. He was always wanted to give to others and would often give away one of his drawings and telling the recipient "maybe you can sell it and buy something for yourself." One of Bob's final statements was to recite the beginning of a passage from the Bible, "Even though I walk through the shadow of the valley of death." Then, he said, "Tell them that I love them all." By "all," Bob meant the staff at Westwood, his "second family," as well as his family, his old friends from Hyde Park, and the many friends that he made throughout his life.
Bob is survived by his brother, Ed, and his wife, Heather, who remained steadfastly devoted to Bob's care, and whom he loved dearly; both of Richmond, New Hampshire. He is also survived by his uncle, Don McCaul of Waltham, Massachusetts; his sister-in-law, Donna Arnold, and her husband Steve Arnold (Bob considered him a brother) both of Pittsfield, Massachusetts; sister-in-law Karen Arnold of Pittsfield, Massachusetts; his cousin, Pam Wojciak, and her husband Terry Wojciak of St. John's Indiana; his cousin, Ben McCaul, and his wife Sandra McCaul of Boca Raton, Florida; a cousin once removed, Nancy Flood, of Bridgewater, Massachusetts. Bob will be greatly missed by all who knew him. In lieu of flowers, donations may be made in Bob's name to Westwood Center, 298 Main Street, Keene, NH 03431.
A celebration of Bob's life will be held on Friday, February 14, 2014, from 4 to 7pm, at the Foley Funeral Home, 49 Court Street, Keene, NH. Burial will be private and will be held in the Spring in the Lake View Cemetery, Cleveland, OH.