Maxwell Merrill Cain
Aug 10, 2011 | 709 views | 0 0 comments | 4 4 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Maxwell Merrill Cain, 91, of Birmingham, passed away on Saturday, Aug. 6, 2011, at home surrounded by family. He was born May 4, 1920 in Jasper. Mr. Cain graduated from Walker High School in Jasper where he enjoyed playing football and basketball. In 1941, Max enlisted in the U.S. Army Air Forces, trained as a pilot and ultimately obtained the rank of Captain. His first assignment was searching for submarines off the southeastern coast of Florida; he was later assigned to fly B-17 bombers for the 8th Air Force, 401st Bomb Group, 613th Bomb Squadron stationed in Deenethorpe, England. His plane was shot down on Aug. 24, 1944, over Weimar, Germany. Upon capture he was brought to a Luftwaffe hospital to recover from his battle wounds and later transferred to Stalag Luft 1 in Barth, Germany as a POW for the remainder of the war. Upon returning home he attended the University of Alabama in Tuscaloosa on the G.I. Bill, earning a bachelor of science in ceramic technology. He met his wife, Nell, when he saw her perform with the university's synchronized swim team, The Swan Club. Mr. Cain was employed for 34 years by Harbison Walker Refectories, retiring as general manager and division vice president with responsibility for all manufacturing operations worldwide. During those years he served as a consultant to ALCOA, traveling to their South American operations in Suriname and as a technical liaison to Toshiba in Tokyo, Japan. As a second career he earned a realtors’ license and worked with Norville Randolph, specializing in commercial property.

Max is survived by his wife of 64 years Dorothy Nell (Plott) Cain, their children: Robert Maxwell Cain (Molly Lay), Elizabeth Ellen "Betsy" Cain (David Kaminsky), Margaret Cain Adams (David), Samuel Tillman Cain (Amanda), his brother Terry Lindburg Cain, his sister Doris Cain and grandson Jonathan Blackwell Cain.

He was preceded in death by his father, Samuel Cain; mother, Martha Terry Cain; his siblings, Hazel Ottwell, Preston Cain, Alladean Tittle, Roselle Wood and Lucile Standeffer.

He served on the administrative board of Fairfield Highlands United Methodist Church, the Christian Unity Commission District council and was a member of First United Methodist Church in Birmingham. His civic service included Fairfield City Council and Chamber of Commerce; he was a member of Civitans Club, the Birmingham management association and served as vice president and President of the Heatherwood Homeowners Association. Max was a self-trained fly fisherman with an eclectic style that always yielded fish on trips to the local lakes around Birmingham. He coached little league baseball from 1957 to 1962 and was instrumental in building a baseball park in the Glen Oaks subdivision of Fairfield. His understanding of the natural world was extensive and his acquired knowledge from geology, ornithology, plant taxonomy to weather patterns was supplemented by all the native skills he acquired as a boy growing up on the family farm in Jasper. He successfully imparted a love of this type of knowledge to his children to the extent that they all have an appreciation of the natural world that forms the core of their being, often surprising people by their ability, for example, to make weather calls or tell the difference between long-leaf and slash pines. In training during World War II, he was piloting a B17 returning from offshore to base in Clearwater, Fla. Flying 30 feet over the waves, they could see the crowded Clearwater beach as they approached land. The co-pilot suggested “let’s impress the girls.” “Hang on boys” Cain radioed his crew. As the giant craft approached the beach at what surely had to seem eye-level, people began to stand and point. When the B17 did not climb, people began to scatter. When they reached the beach Cain kicked the plane up and thoroughly blasted the beach with prop wash. The tailgunner yelled with delight, reporting umbrellas, towels, and blankets flying everywhere. The base commander’s jeep was waiting for Cain and his co-pilot when he landed.

In lieu of flowers, donations in memory of Maxwell M. Cain may be made to the Red Cross and/or the Multiple Myeloma Research Foundation.

Ridout's Elmwood Chapel, Birmingham; 205-251-7227