The Daily Globe - Serving Gogebic, Iron and Ontonagon Counties

Richard J. Caudill


WAUSAU, Wis. - Richard J. Caudill, 77, of Watersmeet, Mich., passed away on Aug. 30, 2016, at the Aspirus Wausau Hospital in Wausau.

He was born on Oct. 9, 1938, in Watersmeet, son of the late Bill and Emily (Murphy) Caudill. He spent his childhood there and graduated from Watersmeet High School in 1956.

Dick served in the U.S. Air Force as an airplane mechanic and was stationed throughout Europe. After the Air Force, he moved to Chicago and worked for American Motors with some of his oldest friends from back home.

In Chicago, he met the love of his life, Jane Chapman of Trout Creek, Mich. Dick and Jane were married on July 8, 1961, in Watersmeet. For the next 10 years they lived in Chicago and Dick worked as an electrician for the Chicago Transit Authority.

When Dick moved home to Watersmeet in 1971 as a master electrician, he started Caudill Electric. He merged his business with his dear cousins, Joe and Gary Caudill, at Caudill Plumbing, Heating and Electric in Land O' Lakes. He spent the last eight years of his career working for the Lac Vieux Desert Band of Chippewa Indians. His employees there knew him affectionately as "Dick, Head of Maintenance."

Dick was a true leader of his community and for fire services in the entire U.P. He was a member of the Watersmeet School Board for 23 years and served as the board president or vice-president for 20 of those years.

Dick served on the Watersmeet Volunteer Fire Department for 45 years and was the chief for 35 years. He was an instructor and training coordinator for the Michigan Firefighter Training Council and represented the Western U.P. counties. He trained thousands of firefighters throughout Michigan and wrote many grants for fire trucks and other equipment. With the help of his friend. Deward Beeler, Dick worked hard to recycle equipment from downstate departments to bring newer and better trucks and equipment to several U.P. fire departments. Dick received several Firefighter Instructor of the Year awards and also received the MSFA Public Service Award. When he was 64, Dick became a certified emergency medical technician and was the oldest serving EMT in the state of Michigan. Dick truly loved the fire service and working with so many of his firefighting brothers and sisters.

Dick also enjoyed fishing and hunting. He spent his retirement looking for the best fishing spots in the U.P. and Tennessee. Dick and his family proudly leased the land for Jack's Shack in the Ottawa National Forest. The family treasured their time at camp, sharing stories, food, drinks and would occasionally bag a deer for the season.

Dick was preceded in death by his wife, Jane; his parents, and several other family members.

Dick will be forever missed by his beloved dog, Murphy; his daughters, Janice (Danny) Ellis, of Iron Mountain, Mich., Patti Caudill, of Lake Odessa, Mich., and Lynn (Jeff) Landers, of Hoffman Estates, Ill .; sons, Brian (Cathie) Caudill, of Crivitz, Wis., and Bruce (Lara) Caudill, of Watersmeet; 20 grandchildren and 14 great-grandchildren; and numerous siblings, nieces, nephews and many friends.

A mass for the family will be held at the Immaculate Conception Catholic Church in Watersmeet on Saturday, Sept. 10, at 10 a.m. A celebration of Dick's life and a luncheon for all friends and family will be held at the Lac View Desert Banquet Hall following the mass at 11 a.m. All are encouraged to share stories and eulogies around 1 p.m., and a procession to the Watersmeet Cemetery and internment will begin at 2 p.m.

In lieu of flowers, memorial gifts may be made to the Michigan Fire Service Instructors Association Education and Scholarship fund and the Bay Cliff Health Camp.

Arrangements are by Gaffney-Busha Funeral Home, Eagle River, Wis.


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