Francis Joseph Cain peacefully passed away in the presence of his family on March 14, 2019. Francis was born on Dec. 20, 1922 at Fanny Allen Hospital in Colchester, to Leo and Mary Elizabeth Carpenter Cain.
Francis was a graduate of Cathedral High School in 1940. In 1943, he received a bachelor of arts degree in English literature from St Michael’s College. Following graduation, he enlisted in the Navy and entered U.S. Officers Training School. He was commissioned an Ensign in 1943 and served his country during WWII in the Mediterranean, European and Pacific Theaters of operation in the amphibious fleet. On June 6, 1944, Francis took part in the D-Day Landing at Normandy Beach, France. He transported occupation troops to Hokkaido, Japan following the surrender and end of WWII. He was the last Commanding Officer of LST 309 in 1946.
He returned to Burlington after the war and married the love of his life, Mary Jane Allen, of Essex Junction on Nov. 8, 1947. Together they raised a family of 10 children.
Under the guidance of his father Leo, he entered the property-casualty insurance business in Burlington and eventually established Cain Insurance Agency. Francis was the first person in Vermont to achieve his CPCU designation. Cain Insurance later merged with Hickok and Boardman Inc. in 1969. Francis was active in the Hickock and Boardman Agency for the balance of his professional career, serving as general manager for the Property-Casualty Division until retirement in 1988.
Francis served as Mayor of Burlington for three terms from 1965-1971 and Alderman from Ward 1 from 1962-1965.
Burlington’s current mayor, Miro Weinberger, said he was deeply saddened by Frank Cain’s passing.
“During my time as mayor, I have come to know Mayor Cain personally as a wonderful friend and have also developed a great respect for his accomplishments as mayor… He was impeccable in his style, and always curious and interested in hearing about the city’s work and the progress we have made since his time as mayor, including attending every annual State of the City address.
“Mayor Cain will be remembered for recognizing the possibility and importance of developing a connection between the downtown and Lake Champlain, pursing innovative and tough legal strategies to remove the gas and oil tanks and beginning the transformation of Burlington’s waterfront. He was also very dedicated to growing the city’s parks system, skillfully negotiating the city’s acquisition of what is now Oakledge Park and starting the effort to acquire what is now Leddy Park, which was successfully completed by his successor, Mayor Gordon Paquette. In this regard, he is truly the godfather of what is modern Burlington.”
During his six years as mayor, he was involved in public housing and lakefront land acquisition. Upon his retirement from office, the Burlington Free Press wrote, “Mayor Cain is an honest and realistic executive who perhaps has accomplished more for this city during his tenure than any other mayor in the Queen City’s history.
He served on the Board of Directors of the Chamber of Commerce, Greater Burlington Industrial Corporation, The United Way of Chittenden County and The University of Vermont Medical Center. He initiated The Burlington International Games with The Mayor of Burlington, Ontario. The B.I.G. games were a free athletic competition available to Burlington kids for more than 30 years.
He is survived by his wife of 71 years Mary Jane Allen Cain; his 10 children, Michael Cain (Joanne Wells) of Fairfax, William Cain (Marilee) of South Hero, Carolyn Cain Breiner (Thomas) of Swanton, Thomas Cain (Clarissa Holmes) of Sharon, Martha Cain (Byron Baribeau) of Sharon, Patricia Cain Haynes (Michael) of Stowe, Betsy Cain Nelson (Ted) of Milton, Susan Cain O’Brien (William) of Winooski, Barbara Cain Cousins (Glen) of Burlington and Brian Cain (Lilli) of Montpelier. In addition, he loved his 27 grandchildren and 20 great-grandchildren, with one on the way. Each one was “The Best Kid in Town”.
Francis was predeceased by his parents Leo and Bess, his brothers R. Nolan Cain and L. John Cain, and his sister Mary Virginia Cain RSM.
A mass of Christian Burial will be celebrated at St Michael’s College Chapel on Friday, March 22, at 1 p.m. Calling hours will be at Lavigne’s Funeral Home in Winooski on Thursday, March 21 from 4-7 p.m. In lieu of flowers please consider a donation in Francis’s name to Mercy Connections, 255 South Champlain St, Burlington, VT 05401 or UVM Health Network (VNA), 1110 Prim Road, Colchester, Vermont 05446.