Robert W. Jr., 88, of Gulfport and Boca Grande, was born Aug. 20, 1920, in Meadville, Pa., to Gail Jarrell Caldwell and Robert W. Caldwell Sr. An excellent boatsman and fisherman, he died in Bayfront Medical Center in St. Petersburg July 4.
Caldwell lived a modest lifestyle maintaining his boat and auto engines himself. He even built his own 26-foot single-engine boat from scratch in his front driveway in the late 1950s and took it on a five-week adventure to the Bahamas with his family. He enjoyed taking the family in the station wagon to visit national parks, frequently camping out along the way.
Caldwell particularly enjoyed a fishing trip last Father's Day weekend with his son when they went more than 55 nautical miles out into the Gulf of Mexico.
Bill Caldwell Sr. and his son, Bill Caldwell III, shared a lot of time together on the waters off Boca Grande over the years. Caldwell particularly enjoyed a fishing trip last Father's Day weekend with his son when they went more than 55 nautical miles out into the Gulf of Mexico.
He is survived by his loving and devoted wife of more than 63 years, Adele A. Caldwell; a daughter, April Caldwell Hornsleth (Poul); a daughter, Elise "Desi" Caldwell McCarthy (Vaughn); a son, R.W. 'Bill' Caldwell III (Katie); and three grandchildren, Poul Hornsleth, III, Jody Hornsleth Seplveda (Rob) and Kyle McCarthy. A memorial gathering was held July 11 at R.W. Caldwell Park, dedicated in his name at 64th Street and Gulfport Boulevard.
His maternal grandparents, George and Abigail Jarred, first brought him to Gulfport in the 1920s. When his grandparents opened the Gulfport Market, he helped them out along with his mom and his Aunts Isabel, Anne and Helen.
He attended Diction Junior High and St. Petersburg High School. He graduated St. Pete High in 1938, and, after attending St. Petersburg Junior College for a year, enrolled in the Massachusetts Institute of Technology where he captained the lightweight crew. He graduated MIT during World War II in January 1943 with a degree in aeronautical engineering.
He is survived by his loving and devoted wife of more than 63 years, Adele A. Caldwell; a daughter, April Caldwell Hornsleth (Poul); a daughter, Elise "Desi" Caldwell McCarthy (Vaughn); a son, R.W. 'Bill' Caldwell III (Katie); and three grandchildren, Poul Hornsleth, III, Jody Hornsleth Seplveda (Rob) and Kyle McCarthy.
He chose to work at Convair in San Diego, which later became part of General Dynamics. He built B-24s and other aircraft.
He married Adele Allport in 1945. All threee children were born in La Jolla, Calif.
He returned to Gulfport with his family July 4, 1951, planning to work with his Dad and open the building division of R.W. Caldwell Inc., a real estate and insurance business begun by his father in 1937. In late 1952, however, found himself running the company after his father's untimely death.
A successful investor and land developer, he was elected president of the Contractors and Builders Association of Pinellas County in 1954. He was the first president of the Gulfport Chamber of Commerce and was president of the Friends of the Gulfport Library when the new library was built at 28th and Beach Boulevard.
He was a member of the St. Petersburg Yacht Club for more than 50 years. Subdivisions he developed in his career included Pelican Creek and Catalina Gardens plus hundreds of individual homes throughout Pinellas County.
He was an organizing director and built the First Bank of Gulfport, was chairman of the Pinellas County branches of Royal Trust Bank and was an organizing director of First Gulf Bank. He was president of Jordan-Caldwell Inc. which developed San Clemente East in Pasco County.
His largest Gulfport business venture was as managing partner of the Pasadena Partnership, which bought Skimmer Point (later Pelican Bay) and arranged the annexation of this part of Pasadena Yacht and Country Club into Gulfport. Hat the time of his death he was president of Palm Island investment Corp. in Charlotte County and Chairman of R.W. Caldwell Inc. in Gulfport.
Caldwell helped many area people in need, but had a special feeling for suffering Haitians. He personally donated at least four entire containers full of more than than 150,000 pounds of beans through For HAITI, With Love to help feed the hungry Haitian people.
R.W. Caldwell Park was dedicated in his name April 18. In lieu of flowers, the family asks donations be made to either For HAITI, With Love, the Gulfport Historical Society or the Friends of the Gulfport Library. Arrangements by R. Lee Williams & Son Funeral Home 5730 15th Avenue South Gulfport 33707 (727) 345-7797 www.rlwilliams.com