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Bob Cage, renowned artist, athlete and tobacconist, dies

Robert F. "Bob" Cage, a Halifax native, was known for his achievements in an array of fields that he pursued with customary passion.

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A life of accomplishment

South Boston News
Bob Cage
SoVaNow.com / November 20, 2014
Accomplished artist, champion athlete, acclaimed tobacco auctioneer, interpreter and defender of the countryside — all describe Robert F. “Bob” Cage, who died Wednesday 19 in Raleigh, N.C. where he had been under Hospice care for the past several weeks. He was 91.

A funeral will be conducted on Monday, Nov. 24 at 2 p.m. at St. John’s Episcopal Church with the Rev. Gleon Ross officiating.

“Bob fought for those things that were dear and precious to him,” said long time friend Jack Dunavant. “But he was the most non-judgmental man I’ve every known. He could get along with everyone.

“He will be hard to replace,” Dunavant said.

Dunavant, an anti-uranium activist and Halifax Town Council member, remembered the many times the two of them had traveled together to oppose uranium mining in nearby Pittsylvania County. “He’d pick up with only a minute’s notice to go to Richmond or Martinsville or wherever it was necessary to spread the gospel. He was determined to keep this community clean.”

For others, the memories of Cage turn to his vibrant and colorful paintings and sculptures which are displayed at the Prizery, in his hometown of Halifax — where his metal dinosaur sculpture stands, at the moment festooned for the holidays — and at his farm on Cage Trail in South Boston. The front field is filled with a collection of his sculpture works, a source of wonder for visitors from far and wide.

Others remember Cage for his athletic prowess as one of the top male tennis players in the state for many years, even into his 80s. Jack Cooper of Martinsville, a regular tennis partner for three decades, said, “He was such a pleasant part of my life. He was highly competitive, but always very fair. He played the game just as it should be played, and while I always knew it would be tough to face him on the court, it was always a pleasure.”

Perhaps his most notable achievement is his selection as a world champion tobacco auctioneer. His Southern chants attracted the attention of the Smithsonian Center for Folklife and Cultural Heritage. A recording of Cage’s distinctive patter was made a part of the Center’s archives.

Sheriff Fred Clark recalled yesterday that his father worked for years with Cage on the annual tobacco markets. The opening of the tobacco markets and the auctioneer’s chant that provided for the farmer’s economic welfare have long since passed, but those memories linger in the minds of many local families.

Cage is survived by his wife, Sandy, two daughters, Robin of Richmond and Barbara of South Boston and a son Fielding of South Boston. He was preceded in death by a daughter, Dani.





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