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War hero, rancher Art Cader dies

Art Cader.

Published: Sunday, February 2, 2014 at 9:12 a.m.
Last Modified: Sunday, February 2, 2014 at 9:12 a.m.

Native Petaluman Art Cader rarely kept his feet on the ground for long, even well into his old age.

Cader, who died at home Friday at the age of 92, ran a chicken ranch, served as president of the Sonoma County Farm Bureau and once hosted a party for 18,000 concertgoers. After piloting a bomber on dozens of runs during World War II, he developed a lifelong love of flying that saw him take off and land almost daily until he gave up his license five years ago.

“He was always down at the airport,” said his daughter, Janice Cader-Thompson, a former Petaluma city councilwoman. “He loved the men who flew — and the women.”

Cader, a decorated pilot who learned to fly in the Army Air Corps during World War II, owned several private planes after the war and was known for jaunts with his grandchildren around Northern California and aerial vacations with his wife of 64 years, Selma Fishman Cader.

“He and my mother flew often,” Cader-Thompson said. “If they wanted to go to lunch in Sacramento, they would get in the plane and go.”

Cader, a native Petaluman, was a fixture in the area's agriculture for his whole life, starting with work in his father's business, Cader Brothers Tallow, making soap and candle products.

“He had agriculture in his heart,” said Domenic Carinalli, a longtime friend and Farm Bureau director. “He did a very good job for the Sonoma County Farm Bureau and had this way of working with the supervisors and other leaders in the county.”

In the 1950s, Cader bought 38 acres on Ely Road, purchased a surplus Quonset hut that served as a family home for several years and set up a chicken ranch. He supplied eggs throughout the Bay Area, and later sold meat and fried chicken from a store on the property.

“There wasn't a night that someone didn't ring the doorbell to buy eggs,” his daughter said. “We didn't have a dinner without someone, a customer, coming to the door to buy eggs.”

He later switched to raising hydroponic cucumbers after he developed an allergy to chicken dust, she said.

In its heyday, the property hosted festivals and events, including a 1977 party hosted by Sonoma County Farm Trails and beloved KGO talk show host Al “Jazzbeaux” Collins that drew nearly 18,000 people.

In the 1990s, Cader sold the farm, which was developed into a subdivision that still bears the Cader Farms name. He and his wife continued to live in their house on the site, Cader-Thompson said.

Cader, a native Petaluman, was born Sept. 9, 1921, to the late Morris and Mary Cader, immigrants from Latvia and Lithuania who settled in Petaluma in the early decades of the 20th century.

After high school, Cader briefly attended business school, but left to enlist in the Army Air Corps shortly after Pearl Harbor. In late 1943, after more than a year of flight training, he and his B-24 bomber crew were deployed to an airbase on Guadalcanal.

Cader went on to fly 44 missions, including participating in the longest combat flight by B-24s unescorted by protective fighters, a 1,080-nautical-mile raid on an oil refinery in Borneo in September 1944. That mission, during which he used his own aircraft to provide cover for an aircrew parachuting out of another bomber destroyed by Japanese fighters, earned Cader a recommendation for the Distinguished Flying Cross. He received that long-awaited honor in 2007.

Cader was active in local affairs after the war. In addition to heading the Farm Bureau in the 1970s, he was an active member of the Commonwealth Club of San Francisco, Toastmasters, the Petaluma Area Pilots Association and the Aircraft Pilots of the Bay Area. He was a former member of the Petaluma Airport Commission and Sonoma County Area Agency on Aging Advisory Council.

“Whatever he got himself involved with, he would take a leadership role,” Cader-Thompson said. “If it was something he was interested in, he went to bat for the organization.”

Cader died of congestive heart failure after about a year of hospice care. Despite his declining heath, he remained active until just days before his death and took a role in caring for his ailing elder sister.

“He wanted to go to museums, he took a tour of the Petaluma wastewater plant, he wanted to go to Lagunitas Brewing,” his daughter said of his final year. “And he did it, did it all.”

In addition to his wife, he is survived by his sister, Mildred Weisberg of Petaluma; four children, Bruce Cader of Santa Rosa, Linda Cader of Berkeley, Gary Cader of Petaluma and Cader-Thompson of Petaluma; six grandchildren; and 14 great-grandchildren.

A funeral service will be at 2 p.m. Monday at Parent-Sorensen Mortuary and Crematory, 850 Keokuk St., Petaluma. Memorial contributions may be made to Hospice of Petaluma, 416 Payran St., or Congregation B'nai Israel, 740 Western Ave., Petaluma.

You can reach Staff Writer Sean Scully at 521-5313 or sean.scully@pressdemocrat.com. On Twitter @BeerCountry.

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