Dallas Morning News
July 10, 2014
He was a DeSoto police officer, an actor and a skater, who performed professionally on rollers and ice.
His appearances in commercials, movies and television included 100 episodes of Walker, Texas Ranger. In two 1987 episodes of the TV show Dallas, art imitated life, when Cawley played an ice-skating instructor at the Galleria.
He was also a force in helping others experience his passions of acting and skating.
Cawley, 85, died June 23 of natural causes at Red Oak Health & Rehabilitation Center.
Services will be at 11:15 a.m. Friday at Dallas-Fort Worth National Cemetery.
Cawley played many mostly uncredited roles, including trial spectators, jurors, drunks, cowboys and homeless men. He was a pageant judge in the 2000 movie, Miss Congeniality.
“He was a ham, he just really just enjoyed it,” said his wife, Sandra Cawley of Ovilla. “He was in with the stars, that was just his thing.”
Born in Carbondale, Pa., Cawley graduated from Edison High School in Brooklyn, N.Y., where he started entertaining as a member of the Park Circle Skating Club, where he won 10 national medals for artistic skating.
In 1946, he joined the Marines.
After completing his military service, Cawley toured Europe with Skating Vanities, a roller skating show. He later traded his rollers for blades to tour internationally with Sonja Henie’s ice revues.
Cawley settled in California, where he worked for American Airlines, before becoming a police officer in Atherton, Calif.
In 1976, he moved to North Texas, where he managed roller-skating rinks. In 1977, he joined the DeSoto Police Department, where he started PAL, the Police Athletic League program, working with underprivileged young people. He retired from the Police Department in 1984 and intensified his acting vocation.
In 1998, Cawley was a founding member of the DeSoto Arts Commission, where he was a commissioner for six years and a judge with the DeSoto Star Search.
“He was an outstanding citizen volunteer,” said Katy Jones, community relations manager for the commission. Cawley worked to promote the area as a film location and to help aspiring actors find opportunities.
“When there would be an open call for extras, he would always put that information word out,” Jones said. “And some people got to take advantage of that, which was kind of fun.”
In retirement, Cawley focused on acting.
“He worked into it gradually and got an agent and a coach,” his wife said. “They encouraged him to go further and got him jobs. He really enjoyed that.”
Cawley also started and was executive producer of Exposure, a monthly program to help aspiring performers at the Ozona Grill and Bar on Greenville Avenue.
“The audience is usually people who are in the biz or producers and gents looking for talent,” Cawley said in 2001. “It is the best networking in Dallas.”
Cawley’s last role was about two years ago as the real-life substitute drama teacher at Red Oak High School, helping students make an anti-substance abuse film, his wife said.
In addition to his wife, Cawley is survived by two daughters, Stacey Speegle of Ovilla and Kelly Haas of Midlothian; a son, Frank Cawley of Little Elm; eight grandchildren; and five great-grandchildren.
Memorials may be made to Shriners Hospitals for Children.
CAWLEY, Robert F. (Robert Francis Cawley)
Born: 7/25/1928, Carbondale, Pennsylvania, U.S.A.
Died: 6/23/2014, Dallas, Texas, U.S.A.
Robert F. Cawley’ westerns – actor:
Walker, Texas Ranger (TV) – 1994, 1995, 1997, 2001 (courtroom spectator, shopper, homeless man, trial attendee, court attendee)