* Gordon A Cain Obituary - October, 2002



Gordon A Cain was married to my aunt Lucía (his first wife), and above depicts my great grandmother (renowned Texas artist Maria G La Madrid), Lucía La Madrid Cain, Gordon A Cain, and my mother, Maria La Madrid Hemmi Arnstein. This picture was taken in about 1956, a year after Tio Gordon moved to Houston. My aunt worked at Tenneco when they met, after she had graduated from University of Houston (my alma mater).

Gordon and Lucía were married in 1956, and Lucía passed away in 1968 after a long battle with cancer whose symptoms manifested after a trip they took to India and the Bahamas.

Gordon never had any children by either his first or second wife.

-Photo copyright Louis Hemmi, all rights reserved.-

GORDON ARBUTHNOT CAIN died October 22, 2002 in Houston of heart failure. The son of Gordon Dunn Cain and Ola Arbuthnot, he was born in Baton Rouge on May 31, 1912, and grew up in Baton Rouge, Calhoun, and Rayville, Louisiana.

He is survived by his wife, Mary Hancock Cain; two step-children, Margaret (Peggy) Weaver Oehmig and her husband William C. Oehmig, and James Weaver and his wife Sharyn A. Weaver; three grandchildren, Gordon Oehmig, Alyson Weaver, and Kyle Weaver, all of Houston; two brothers, Dr. Frank Cain of Lake Providence, Louisiana and Edward Cain of San Clemente, California; and one sister, Ruth Upton of Rayville, Louisiana. He is preceded in death by his first wife, Lucía La Madrid Cain.

Two sisters, Pola Falge of Appleton, Wisconsin and Billie Mix of Monroe, Louisiana, preceded him in death. Mr. Cain was graduated from Louisiana State University with a degree in Chemical Engineering in 1933, and until World War II, worked as a chemical engineer at Freeport Sulphur and Merck. In World War II, he served as a commander of a heavy mortar battalion, landing on Leyte and Okinawa.

He received two Bronze Stars and a Purple Heart. He was wounded on Okinawa. After the war, he worked for Freeport Sulphur Company, Standard Perlite Company, and FMC Corporation. He came to Houston in 1955 to help start Petro-Tex Chemical, a joint venture of FMC and Tenneco. In 1964, he became a vice president of Conoco in charge of their chemical operations, where he built the business from $25 million in sales to $600 million.

In 1970, he resigned from Conoco and spent the next twelve years as a manager of various troubled companies. These included a synthetic rubber company in Argentina (PASA - Petroquimicas Argentina Sudamericana), an oil refinery in Alaska, a chemical company in Houston, and electronic companies in Houston and Boston. In 1984, he completed his first leveraged buyout. He bought a fertilizer business and established the Arcadian Corporation, which became a $2 billion company before it was sold in 1996.

He also bought Conoco's chemical business from Du Pont and established Vista Chemical. He formed The Sterling Group, which continued to do leveraged buyouts, buying Monsanto's Texas City plant to form Sterling Chemicals; buying six ethylene-related plants from six different companies to form Cain Chemical; buying six ethylene-related plants from six different companies to form Cain Chemical, run by his close friend and business associate Bill McMinn; and buying the Celanese polyster fibers business to form Fiber Industries.

Since 1992, Mr. Cain participated in other Sterling Group investments including Mail-Well, Purina Mills, Sterling Diagnotic Imaging and Texas Petrochemicals. He helped start Atlantic Coast Airlines, helped found Lexicon Genetics and also started two other biotechnology companies still in developmental stages, Agennix and ADViSYS, Inc.

Gordon Cain was one of the pioneers in the movement to involve employees in the direction of the company. He was strongly committed to having all employees own an interest in the companies where they worked. In 1997, his book, Everybody Wins! was published. It is both an autobiography for his grandchildren and a treatise on his business philosophy.

In 1988, he and his wife Mary established the Gordon and Mary Cain Foundation, which supports local education, social, and health projects, as well as public policy groups with limited-government, free market orientation.

He was a member of River Oaks Country Club and The Bayou Club in Houston, TX, Grandfather Golf & Country Club and Linville Country Club in Linville, NC, and Mountain Lake Country Club in Lake Wales, FL. Deepest thanks to his office staff and Doris Hollins, Sharon Baker, Bell Bennett and Eloise Green.

A Memorial service was held on Friday October 25, 2002 at 2 o'clock in the afternoon at St. John the Divine Episcopal Church, 2450 River Oaks Boulevard in Houston, with The Rev. Laurens A. Hall officiating.

In lieu of flowers, memorial contributions may be made to Avery Health Care System, 434 Hospital Drive, Houston, Linville, NC 28646 or Lake Wales Art Center, P.O. Box 608, Lake Wales, FL 33589.