A tribute to a late, local journalist: Fred D. Cavinder reminds us of our roots

Reprint of a 2016 Southside Times article 

By Rick Hinton

The December 23, 2015, article about author and news writer, Fred D. Cavinder, featured in The Southsider Voice, brought a moment of pause, and even longer bout of reflesction about a man whose career has centered around writing about things that you and I, as Hoosiers, should never let slip by the wayside.

Every once in a great while we have these gurus of journalism that come along, shining like a beacon of light to remind us of our past and illuminating just how far we have come as the years have rolled forward. Once these voices are silenced, we tend to lose a piece of ourselves.

Cavinder was a former reporter and feature writer for The Indianapolis Star. He began his tenure with them in 1956 (the year I was born). I remember always seeking out the “Cavinder” articles in the newspaper during the 1970s.

Fred D. Cavinder. (Submitted photo)

In 1969 he began a new stint – 16  years as the editor of The Indianapolis Star Magazine. Cavinder settled comfortably into the niche of purveyor of Indiana topics, based upon communities, places, people, trivia and obscure facts. It was where he wanted to be in his writing. Thus began a weekly history lesson to those paying attention; a reflection of  little-known facts immersed within a state he’d called home for the majority of his life. He won many awards throughout the years for his feature writing and accompanying photographs. Yet, it was always about the message: remember where you came from. The past always influences the future.

Cavinder retired from The Indianapolis Star in 1993; however the pen and stories never left his hand. There were books – beginning in 1985 – dealing with little-known Indiana facts and trivia that continued publication into forthcoming years. Cavinder strongly believed slices of the past should never be lost to time and progress. He painted a canvas of who Hoosiers were and pointed toward who they would become in the future. He contributed articles for Southside newspapers, The Spotlight and The Southsider Voice, continuing his historical slant with the latter until 2014 when he turned 83 years of age. Perhaps it became time to place the pen in the cup holder and let someone else carry on. Life seems to have other plans often not foreseen.

Cavinder books from the author’s collection. (Photo by Rick Hinton)

Fred D. Cavinder lived in a health care facility in Greenwood during the latter years of his life. Unable to put a pen to paper, to comprehend what he was reading, or work on watercolor paintings, he became a prisoner to his body. When we are young, we never imagine such a thing happening. When we become older, it becomes a game of chance. Yet while our body ages, our minds never lose that sense of youth, or what we have accomplished. These very eyes always remain the eyes of our youth, dreams and expectations. Cavinder’s eyes continued to sparkle with this sense of youth.

There’s always a story to tell, and sometimes one with a twist. Fred Cavinder told them well, preserving a wealth of Indiana history that will carry down through the years as a new generation calls Indiana home. And for one man – and a career of a life lived – it all fell into place at the perfect point in time. One has to make a living, and Cavinder did just that, revolving around his passion – Hoosier history. It doesn’t get much better than that!

Fred D. Cavinder passed away at the age of 86 on May 13, 2017