IN THE CARE OF

×

Wilder Funeral Home

OBITUARY

Ian Robert Cairns

July 24, 1938November 16, 2020
Play Tribute Movie

Ian Robert Cairns, 82, much loved husband, died peacefully at home on Nov. 16, 2020 under the loving care of his wife, Barbara, and staff members of Comfort Keepers and VITAS. Ian was born the youngest of seven children, in Bognor Regis, Sussex, England on July 24, 1938 to William and Hilda (Chuter) Cairns. After losing his mother at age eleven, by the time he was fifteen, Ian had become a boy soldier in the British Army where he received training at the Regimental Depot in Perth, Scotland. Barely into his teens, he was deployed to Kenya where the Black Watch Regiment was involved in an operation against the Mau Mau. This experience helped him to appreciate the strict British Army discipline and to learn self-sufficiency. Less than two years later, tragedy struck again as he headed home to attend his father’s funeral. Following Ian’s compassionate leave at age seventeen, he rejoined his regiment in Scotland where his musical talent was recognized and he was selected for musical training at Kneller Hall, outside London. For the next several years, Ian played clarinet in the Black Watch Military Band, touring all over the UK, Germany, Italy, Denmark, Iran, U.S. and Canada in full kilt regalia. His other duties included activities such as desert training in Libya and an operation in Cypress against a Greek terrorist organization, spending a whole year under canvas before being assigned barracks in Berlin where he was assigned guard duty at Spandau Prison. Always having a wiry build, he also became a lightweight boxer during his time in the military. Following his time with the famed Black Watch regiment, Ian exchanged army uniforms and dress kilts for civilian three piece suits as a salesman at London’s Alexander’s Clothing Store. From that time on, his well groomed elegant attire earned him the reputation of being a dapper dresser, something he enjoyed well into retirement. This job eventually took him to the PX at an American Army Base in Bamberg, Germany. It was there that he met a young teacher recently transferred from a Department of Defense School in Labrador, Canada. According to his best friend Mike, also an Englishman, Ian pointed to Barbara (Fitts) Hinds among the new teachers and said, “See her. I’m going to marry her.” There was just one glitch; she was already engaged to a Canadian. But Ian was persistent and he ended up following her to Panama where they were married on April 16, 1971. Over the course of 26 years on this Central American country, they traveled alot just as they had in Europe. Barbara became an elementary school principal while Ian became an entrepreneur. His first self-owned business was the Auto Trade Center, the first of its kind in Panama, but one that eventually had to be shut down due to the closing of banks in Panama City by the infamous Manuel Noriega. Ian then bought an International Moving Company on the Atlantic side of the Isthmus of Panama where he proceeded to move all the military families in and out of the country. Once the military shut down the bases on the Colon side of Panama, Ian turned his moving company into the Atlantic Trucking Company. Quite a feat to operate three different businesses in a foreign country where he read but did not speak the language. Before moving back to the pacific side of Panama, Ian and Barbara lived on Ft. Gulick. This is where they shared a frightening experience during the “Just Cause” 1989 invasion, when they were awakened by gunfire in their front yard, just across from the PDF (Panama Defense Forces) Headquarters on the dual base. Crawling around on their hands and knees to avoid windows, it was a scary night, when all they could think about was “Where are our passports?”, and hoping if they evacuated they’d be allowed to take their little dog. Material things didn’t matter. The closest Ian had been to such a situation before was during WWII in England when he and his family lived in a small two story detached home not far from the coast. It was between the Ford Aerodrome Royal Navy Fleet Air Arm and Tangmere, a larger RAF Aerodrome where bombers could be heard warming up at night. Two vivid pictures stuck in Ian’s mind; one of being pushed down by a Canadian soldier protecting him from a low-flying bomber aiming for a nearby gasometer near the cricket field; the other incident involved his sister Enid who pushed him in his pram when a fighter plane flew in low, strafing bullets all along the road next to the sidewalk. Many years of wartime meant using both blackout curtains and the huge “shelter” table in the family dining room. Ian also remembered sleeping in his tiny bedroom at Caversham on Mead Lane, where he shared a bed with his two older brothers. His Mum and Dad had one bedroom and his four sisters had the other. They put sixpences and shillings in the electric meter and pennies in the gas meter. When the coins ran out, so did the electricity and the gas for cooking. He didn’t taste his first banana until he was nine years old. Ian grew up in a happy family, but one that suffered hardships. It is unfortunate that his parents never had the opportunity to hear their youngest son perform in the prestigious Black Watch Regiment Band. His father, a musician and bandleader, would have been proud. Both parents would certainly have been proud of the self-made man that he became later in life. Ian, in retirement to Sugarmill Woods in Homosassa, FL in 1999, became an avid gardener, a lover of classical music, a member of the British-American Club, organizer of his beloved ROMEO (Retired Old Men Eating Out) group, and a clever options trader until dementia set in four years ago. In addition to his parents, Ian was preceded in death by sisters Patricia Counter (Joseph) of Australia and Enid Wiltshire (Ken) of England; a brother Alan Cairns (Mary) of Ireland; nephews Richard Counter and family of Australia and Graham Counter (Mary) and family of England. He leaves behind the love of his life and wife of 49 years, Barbara (Fitts) Hinds; a surviving brother, William Cairns (Jean) of England; sister Margaret Parker (John) of Canada; nieces Phillipa Redwood (Simon) and sons Charles and William of England; Alison Kyles (John) and sons Al Kyles of Australia and Ian Kyles of England; Jennifer Parker of Canada; Sally William and family of Australia; Gillian Wilkins (John) of Australia; Vanessa Wilkins of Australia; Joan Marquis (Jerry Figueroa) and daughter Marina of Connecticut and Trudy Brockett (Ben) and sons Nick and Michael of Connecticut; nephews Patrick Cairns (Carol) and family of England; William Cairns of England; Nicholas Wiltshire (Denise) of England; Christopher Counter (Val) and family of Australia; Nathan Wiltshire and family of Australia; Alistair Parker and family of Canada and Jeremy Parker and family of Canada. Ian decided to donate his body for medical research so he will be transported from the Wilder Funeral Home in Homosassa, Florida to the Anatomical Board in Gainesville, FL. A Celebration of Life will be held at some future date. www.wilderfuneral.com

SEND FLOWERS Add a
Memory
Receive
Notifications

Services

No public services are scheduled at this time. Receive a notification when services are updated.
Receive
Notifications
Show Your
Support

Memories

Ian Robert Cairns

have a memory or condolence to add?

ADD A MEMORY
FROM THE FAMILY
FROM THE FAMILY
FROM THE FAMILY
FROM THE FAMILY
FROM THE FAMILY
FROM THE FAMILY
FROM THE FAMILY
FROM THE FAMILY
FROM THE FAMILY
FROM THE FAMILY
FROM THE FAMILY
FROM THE FAMILY
FROM THE FAMILY
FROM THE FAMILY
FROM THE FAMILY
FROM THE FAMILY
FROM THE FAMILY
FROM THE FAMILY
FROM THE FAMILY
FROM THE FAMILY

Learn more about the Cairns name

VISIT ANCESTRY.COM