After a long battle with cancer, my Father, Orlando Dominic Cambio, a.k.a. Champ, a.k.a. Fred, passed away on February 11th. He spent his last month in hospice, at his home, with is family providing much of the care. Three days before he died, he and my mom celebrated their 46th wedding anniversary.
My father was a brilliant man. He spent most of his life working as a mechanical engineer. He had 14 patents granted in his name and another 7 which were granted in the name of companies he had developed them for.
He always said that an engineer who didn’t know how to use a hammer or a wrench wasn’t worth much. He practiced what he preached. He was a great mechanic, cutting his teeth on his first car, a Model A Ford, at the age of 12. He built a few hot rods in his teens and twenties before getting his engineering degree. He always worked on his own cars to keep his mechanical mind sharp. I remember when I was a teenager, he disassembled a Fiat transmission, cleaned it, replaced some worn bearings and put the whole thing back together again without ever looking at a manual.
When I was a kid, my folks bought an old dairy farm. My dad refurbished the whole place, and in the process honed his skills as a carpenter, mason, plasterer, plumber, electrician, and architect. When I was working as a carpenter, I remember being impressed with his abilities as a self taught trim carpenter, not to mention the fact that he had shaped many of the mouldings and trims in our home.
My folks were a little to old to be hippies and went back to the land before it was a movement. In addition to four kids, they raised chickens, ducks, geese, lambs, steer, a few ponies and a couple of horses. He kept bees and we made cider in the Fall. It was a great way to grow up and I’m grateful that my folks had the courage and abilities to make that leap.
I should also add that, with four young kids in the home, my father made the very bold move of becoming self employed. He worked as a consultant for over 30 years. He could have made a much more comfortable living had he stayed with one of the companies that he had worked for, but it was more important for him to spend time with his family.
My father was proud that I eventually ended up making guitars. He always liked the fact that I played music, though I’m not sure he could relate to it. He could relate to working with your hands, building something that was well thought out and honing your skills as a craftsman. I had the good fortune of working with him on making the tailpieces that I’m using now. If it hadn’t been for his contributions, I never would have been able to pull it off. I remember taking the plans that he had drawn for the tailpiece to the machine shop that made the die. Four machinists surrounded me and asked, “Who did your plans?” I wasn’t sure what they were getting at so I asked, “Why, is there a problem?”. “Not at all. They’re beautiful,” was their reply.
My dad was the tech guru of the family and the day after he passed away, my computer died. I had lost all of my photos, business records, email contacts etc. After getting over the major frustration that this entailed, I realized that he had taken the hard drive with him so that his Luddite son would be forced to get a little more tech savvy. With the help of my brothers and a couple friends, I was able to recover the lost files, replace the hard drive, reload the drivers and get the computer up and running again. In two short weeks I finally feel a little bit of competence when it comes to computers.
I can’t say enough about my Dad. He was a really great man. Never talked down to anyone, never gossiped. For the most part he was very quiet, and when he did say something, his words were very measured and they cut to the chase. He provided all of his kids and grand kids an example to live by.
So long Pop. And Thanks.