April 20th, 2017 under Obituaries
Rancher, photographer, and independent businessman, Clifton Caldwell, son of the late Jeannette and Guy Caldwell of Abilene, Clifton has deep Texas roots and spent a lifetime supporting the state’s history, folklore, and culture.
Born in Abilene in 1933, while his parents were ranching on the Nunn Ranch in the Davis Mountains of far West Texas, Caldwell moved to Albany at the age of three attending grade school there, and graduated from New Mexico Military Institute in Roswell in 1950. He attended West Point and served in the US Army. He died April 11, 2017.
Clifton married Shirley Welch in 1958, and they had five children––Wade, a lawyer in San Antonio; John, rancher and part owner of the Walker-Buckler Ranch near Albany; Ray, owner of Arch Metals of McKinney; Tom of Keystone, South Dakota, retired Iraq Veteran; and Marilyn who died in 2011.
He received a Bachelor of Mathematics degree from SMU in 1960.
Caldwell devoted more than five decades to the preservation and promotion of Texas history and culture, appointed to the Texas State Historical Survey Committee in 1968 by Governor Preston Smith. He was an active member for thirteen years being reappointed by Governor Dolph Briscoe. As Chairman, he changed the name from Survey Committee to the Texas Historical Commission. He served on the Board of the Texas Historical Foundation for 36 years and became President of the Philosophical Society of Texas and has been a member from 1968 to the present. Clifton belonged to the Board of Directors of the Historic Preservation League of Dallas and served there as President.
Starting in the late ’60s and encouraged by his friendship with the late Carl Hertzog, Clifton took an active interest in book design, culminating in Katharyn Duff’s book, Rupert N. Richardson: The Man and His Works. He served as President of the Friends of the Library at Hardin Simmons University. Later, the Caldwells gave their Hertzog collection to the Library at H.S.U. In 1974, he talked young book designer, Bill Wittliff of Encino Press, who later was active in the production of Lonesome Dove, to lend his talents in designing a reprint of an annotated edition of the 1908 book Shackelford County Sketches and then published it using his Clear Fork Press. Caldwell and his wife founded The Lynch Line, a store in Albany that carried books, maps and information on Texas history and culture. This business was housed in an 1881 native stone commercial structure on the courthouse square in Albany in a building they had restored in the 1970’s contributing to the revival of their town for which he was given the Cornerstone Award by the Chamber of Commerce as Albany’s outstanding citizen in 1977.
President Reagan appointed him to the Advisory Council for Historic Preservation. Clifton also led in other organizations across the state. He joined the Advisory Council of the Center for Big Bend Studies in 1996 serving as Vice Present for Development and on the Board of Advisors for the Museum of the Big Bend. He acted as Associate Editor of Touchstone, the undergraduate journal of the Walter Prescott Webb Historical Society and an underwriter of Texas Beyond History.
Mr. and Mrs. Caldwell established the Clifton and Shirley Caldwell Texas Heritage Series at the University of Texas Press. The series includes over twenty books about Texans and their architecture, built environment, and photography, as well as historic preservation and the flora and fauna of the state. As President of the Texas State Historical Association, he established an endowment fund which provided financial incentives for young writers of the Webb Society, honoring his grandparents, Mr. and Mrs. C. M. Caldwell of Breckenridge who had Webb as a boarder while a student at UT.
At Watt Matthews urging, Caldwell assumed the restoration of the Aztec Theater using support of several civic leaders including Matthews. Recently, Caldwell initiated a gift enabling an addition to the Old Jail Art Museum intended as a fully equipped Archives Building. Through the years,
Caldwell received various other awards, the latest in 2007 as the first recipient of the Texas Award from Humanities Texas.
Clifton was a life-long Baptist. Preceding him in death were their daughter, Marilyn in 2011, and his parents. Surviving him are his wife Shirley of fifty-nine years; four sons and three daughters-in-law––Lisa; Tina, and Anne Marie, nine grandchildren; twelve great-grandchildren; his sister, Molly Cline; his brother, Lee and sister-in-law Ruth; his niece Jeannette Cline Black; and nephews Cliff and Andrew Caldwell and Geoffrey Cline.
The public is welcome to a memorial service on Monday, April 17, Eleven A. M. at the Aztec Theater in Albany, Texas followed by a luncheon reception at the Old Jail Art Center. Burial will be a private service prior to the memorial at Our Lady of the Mountain Cemetery on the Mitre Peak Ranch in Jeff Davis County, Texas, on Good Friday at 3:00 P. M.
In lieu of flowers, memorials may be sent to the Aztec Theater, 141 S. Main, Albany 76430, or the Paisano Baptist Encampment, PO Box 973, Alpine, Texas 79831.
Online condolences may be made at www.baileyhowardfuneralhome.com.
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