Robert Clayton Caldwell, Liberty, was born August 5, 1924 to Harry F. and Anna Caldwell in Fayette County, Indiana and grew up on the family farm in Wayne County. He married Mary Frances Orr of Liberty, IN in March of 1949 and after a brief time in Milton, IN they moved to Liberty where they lived until his passing at 97 years on January 4, 2022.
Robert graduated from Milton High School in 1942, then attended Purdue where he was a member of Alpha Gamma Rho as was his father in 1916 and his son in 1975. In July 1944 he served as First Lieutenant during WWII until September 1946 when he returned to the Wayne County farm. 1950 brought Robert and Mary Frances to the Orr Dairy farm north of Liberty, known as Greenmeadow Farms, Inc. where they raised their two children, Cathy and Tom. He continued to operate the farm until he became Farm Representative for Union County National Bank in 1969. Upon retirement, Robert was Vice President of UCNB and then served as one of its directors for many years.
An active member of the community, particularly the agricultural community, Robert served as director for the Union County Cooperative, Indiana Farm Bureau District 8, Pork Producers and CF Industries. His community service included trustee of Harrison Township, Welfare Board, 4-H Association, and Brookville Lake Regional Waste District. Robert was a member of the First Presbyterian Church, Masonic Lodge and Scottish Rite.
In 1978, Robert experienced a “once-in-a-lifetime” trip to the People’s Republic of China introducing him to farming methods in China. Upon his return, he was quoted in the Palladium-Item, “Since 80 percent of the people work on the farms there is little mechanization, with most work done by hand labor. Men and women are dressed alike and work shoulder to shoulder. All corn is harvested by hand and stalks cut by hand and run through an old ensilage cutter, belt-powered by a tractor. The stalks are put in a dirt trench and covered for future dairy feed.” The three-week trip highlighted agriculture and agri-business differences between China and the USA at that time and was intended to promote future mutual understanding.
During retirement, the Caldwell’s continued their involvement with the Union County/Liberty community by establishing the Robert and Mary F. Caldwell Family Fund at the Union County Foundation. In 1997 they were named life members as they established a perpetual fund to help serve the needs of the community.
Robert was preceded in death by his wife, Mary Frances; his parents; sister and brother-in-law, Lois and Donald Brater and a grandson, Jonathan Thomas Caldwell. He is survived by his daughter Cathy Caldwell of Summerville, SC; son Tom (Melanie) of Liberty; grandsons Casey (Ann) of San Diego, CA and Patrick (Lauren) of Lafayette, IN and great grandson Jack Thomas Caldwell of San Diego, CA and nieces and nephews.
A celebration of life memorial commemorating both Robert’s and Mary Frances’ life as well as a private graveside service will be held at a future date. Donations can be made to the Union County Foundation in the name of the Caldwell Family Fund or the Masonic Lodge #58 in Liberty, Indiana.