Ralph Caldwell

Published 12:00 am Thursday, November 29, 2012

April 18, 1916 – Nov. 26, 2012

RIDGELAND — Services for Ralph Caldwell, 96, who died Monday, Nov. 26, 2012, will be 11 a.m. Friday at Wright and Ferguson Funeral Home Chapel in Ridgeland.

Burial will follow at Parkway Memorial Cemetery under the direction of Wright and Ferguson Funeral Home.

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Visitation will be from 10 a.m. until service time Friday at the funeral home.

Ralph McDill Caldwell was born April 18, 1916, the son of Walter Robison Caldwell and Lula Snell Caldwell.

As a child, Dad loved exploring the rolling hills of northeast Mississippi where he was raised in Blue Springs, Cotton Plant and New Albany. He loved the Lord with wall his heart and soul and was a faithful Christian, being baptized at Hopewell Presbyterian Church and serving as an elder and deacon at Sardis Presbyterian and Trinity Presbyterian churches as well as teaching Sunday school and leading youth groups.

Dad graduated from Tippah-Union High School in 1934, studying under professor Griffith. He loved baseball and played the game through his high school years and then semi-pro back during a time when the fans passed the hat for good plays to tip the player. Always having an interest in radio, Dad graduated from the National Radio Institute which further sparked his interest in radio and technology.

In 1937, the Caldwell family moved to Sardis and from there to Como. During the Great Depression, Dad worked for the W.P.A., drove a cattle truck transporting cattle from Sardis to Memphis and opened a radio service and sales shop in Caldwell Bros. General Merchandise in Sardis. Prior to America’s entry into World War II, he had put in his papers to join the war effort overseas to assist England but before his being able to join that front, America was attacked at Pearl Harbor, so he enlisted in the U.S. Navy. Being an experienced radio technician, he became part of the second naval class of Oklahoma A&M to study radar, which was still a top secret technology at that time.

From there, he was assigned to Aviation Radio Materials at Naval Air Technical Training Center, Ward Island, Corpus Christi, Texas, where he was a Chief Petty Officer and instructor. It was in Corpus Christi that he met his wife of 50 years, Dorothy Claire Noble. They married in Miami, while on his last assignment in Key West and at Boca Chica Field. After the war, they returned to Sardis where they opened Caldwell Radio & TV. He attended college on the G.I. Bill, graduated from Northwest Junior College and earned his bachelor’s degree from the University of Mississippi.

Dad was recruited by Dean Coates of Northwest Junior College and he left the business world to become an instructor of electronics technology. He served on the staff at NWJC from 1960 to 1964, when he accepted a position with the State Department of Education in Jackson as assistant state supervisor of technical education. Later he served as technical education supervisor and earned his master’s degree from Ole Miss.

Serving the junior college system across the state and developing technical education programs was a great honor and privilege to Dad and he worked alongside college presidents and instructors to elevate the Mississippi junior college system to become one of the best in the country. During his career as technical supervisor and during his retirement, Dad was actively involved in the American Technical Education Association serving as past president and trustee; the American Vocational Association serving as trustee; and in the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools evaluating technical programs at colleges across the country.

Dad’s other associations were with the Sons of the American Revolution, Lions Club of Sardis, Boy Scouts of America, Little League Coach and Red Cross volunteer. He was an avid Ole Miss Rebel and member of the Republican Party. He loved the great state of Mississippi and the United States of America.

Ralph was preceded in death by his parents; two loving wives, Dorothy Noble Caldwell and Catherine Mosley Caldwell; and seven siblings, Bruce, Laurene Brown, James, Hugh, Mildred, Margaret Rhoades and John Caldwell.

Survivors include one sister, Mary Lois Michael; two sisters-in-law, Mary Frances Caldwell and Bettina Caldwell; dear friends, Mildred Currie and Bob Scott; cousin, John Osborne.

Also, he is survived by two children, Pat Caldwell and wife, Irma, of Natchez and Claire Caldwell of Houston, Texas; six grandchildren, Scott and Carina Caldwell, Amanda and Nelson Criswell and J.P. (Skip) and Mandy B. Caldwell; and his delight, five great-grandchildren, Grace Caroline and McKay Criswell, Jonah P. Caldwell and Maddie and Anna Beth Caldwell.

Dad spent his last year in Natchez being lovingly cared for by Pat and Irma, and by Carrie Albert, Ethel Davenport, Addie Washington and his special friend, Riley Lofton. We are forever grateful for their kindness.

He will be missed by all the lives he touched.