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Dr. Gene Caldwell dies at 84

He accomplished so much, and still wanted to do more. The legacy of Dr. Gene Caldwell can be found in the children he tended, the works he accomplished, and the work he leaves behind. Dr. Gene Caldwell, 84, died Tuesday, March 4, from congestive heart failure, 10 days shy of his 85th birthday.

“Dr. Caldwell led a life of impact in our community and he will be greatly missed. Like many who grew up here, Dr. Caldwell was my doctor throughout my entire childhood and when I had children, I trusted him as their doctor until he retired,” Anderson County Mayor Terry Frank said.

“When I think of him, I think most fondly of his steady hands and his always reassuring voice. He had a wonderful kindness about him that set him apart — he made the world a better place.”

Born Marvin Gene Caldwell to Georgie B. and Evelyn Brown Pruett Caldwell on March 14, 1932, he grew up on his parents’ farm in Woodland Mills in Tennessee’s Obion County.

He graduated from the University of Tennessee’s College of Agriculture in 1953 with a bachelor of science degree in agronomy. He joined the U.S. Navy while still at UT. After graduation in 1953 he married Bobbie McCoy, also from West Tennessee and a UT graduate.

He was admitted to UT medical school in 1956 and graduated in 1959. Following graduation he was stationed at the Naval hospital in Boston, Mass., and in Portsmouth, Va., and completed his internship at Boston Naval Hospital.

Among his many honors were receiving ETEC’s “Muddy Boot” Award for inspirational leadership, and the Home Federal Hometown Hero Award. In 1966 he was named one of the Outstanding Young Men of America by the National Jaycees organization. In 1992 he was awarded the Eugene Joyce Achievement Award, and in 1995 he received a prestigious Chapter Achievement Award created in his honor by the Tennessee Chapter of the American Academy of Pediatrics.

In 1996, after retiring from medicine, he successfully ran for office to represent the 33rd District in the Tennessee House of Representatives. He served three terms in the House, retiring in 2002.

“Gene Caldwell was a great public servant and did much for our community. He will be missed but his contributions will live on,” Lt. Governor Randy McNally said of Caldwell.

In 2008, after the Anderson County Commission asked the Emory Valley Center to leave the Daniel Arthur Building in Oak Ridge, Gene and Dottie Thompson, the second love of his life, became co-chairmen of the Capital Campaign to raise funds for a new building to house the Emory Valley Center. The building, to be dedicated the Caldwell-Thompson Building, is nearing completion, and he had hoped to attend the ribbon-cutting, set for late spring.

“Dr. Caldwell was one of the finest gentlemen and leaders I have known,” State Rep. John Ragan, who sits in the seat in Nashville held from 1996-2002.

“It is an honor to call him a friend and follow in his footsteps in the General Assembly and be involved in his charitable efforts with Emory Valley Center,” Ragan continued.

“Our community is richer for his many contributions and poorer for his loss. Let us remember his family and friends in this hour of grief but also celebrate his legacy of love for his fellowman through his many accomplishments.”

The family request that any memorials be in the form of gifts to the Emory Valley Center Capital Campaign, for which he worked so passionately the last years of his life. Contributions should specify the Capital Campaign of the Emory Valley Center, P.O. Box 5328, Oak Ridge, TN 37831.

The family will receive friends from 4 - 8 p.m. Wednesday, March 8, at Holley-Gamble Funeral Home in Clinton, which is handling arrangements. The address is 675 S. Charles Seivers Blvd.