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Dr. Jay S. Caldwell


1927 - 2013 Obituary Condolences
Dr. Jay S. Caldwell Obituary
DR. JAY S. CALDWELL Jay Spencer Caldwell, age 85, passed away peacefully on February 12, 2013, with his family by his side. Jay was born April 12, 1927 in Mason City, Iowa to Lorry and Marion (Spencer) Caldwell. As a youngster he enjoyed helping his dad on his bread delivery route. Following his graduation from Mason City High School, he served as a corpsman in the US Navy from 1945-1946. Following his honorable discharge, he moved to his dad's new hometown of Ketchikan, Alaska, where he worked at a variety of jobs on or near the water. He returned to Iowa and received his BA degree from Coe College in Cedar Rapids, where he met his wife-to-be, Betty Marie Ronnenberg, who was completing her nurses' training at nearby St. Luke's Methodist Hospital. Jay and Betty married in 1952, and their daughter Susan was born in 1954. The small family moved to Ann Arbor, Michigan, where Jay completed his graduate studies, earning his PhD in Psychology from the University of Michigan, while Betty worked as a registered nurse. Michigan was a place of happy memories, where son John was born, and enduring friendships were made with fellow grad students. Jay's first teaching job was at Utah State University in Logan, Utah. His son Evan was born in Logan just weeks before the family moved westward again, relocating to Davis, California, where Jay taught psychology for five years at UC Davis. His youngest son, Ted, was born in nearby Woodland in 1964. The remainder of Jay's teaching career was with the Psychology Department at California State University, Chico (formerly Chico State College) where he taught until his retirement. The psychology of learning to read was an area of special interest to Jay, and the basis for several published articles and projects. He retired as Professor Emeritus in 1983. Jay was a quiet man with a thirst for knowledge, who read constantly and enjoyed challenging crossword puzzles, Scrabble, and word play. Camping, fishing and woodcarving were some of his favorite activities. He loved boats, whales, and being on the water. He had a charitable nature, and was generous in both word and deed, always seeing the best in others. Jay had a gentle, encouraging manner with children, and he delighted in the company of his grandkids and other young people. He will be fondly remembered for his tender heart, so evident in the countless homemade paper airplanes, bedtime stories, and simple word or picture games that he shared with the little ones in his life. One of Jay's proudest achievements was his nomination for local "senior citizen of the year" for his dedicated volunteer service to an after-school tutoring program for struggling 2nd and 3rd grade readers at Jay Partridge Elementary School in Chico. The letter of nomination concluded, "What a wonderful world this would be if it were filled with people like Dr. Jay Caldwell". Jay moved to Lynden in July 2008 to share the home of his daughter Susan, son-in-law Ken, and granddaughter Genny. Since last November he had been a resident of Lynden Manor's Dementia Special Care Center. Jay's family would like to extend our gratitude to everyone at Lynden Manor for making him feel at home during his final days. We thank Kristy and the entire nursing staff, especially Gita, Raj and Surinder, for their exceptional level of care, delivered with heart. And special thanks to Kelli for providing the piano music that made him smile. Jay was preceded in death by his wife of nearly 50 years, Betty, and their son, John; his parents, Lorry and Marion Caldwell, and stepmother June Caldwell; and his sister, Anne Clark, of Tacoma, WA. He is survived by his daughter Susan (husband Ken) of Lynden, WA; son Evan (wife Amy) of Dixon, CA; and son Ted (wife Candace) of Chico, CA. He was beloved "Papa Jay" to granddaughters Erin Owen of Ames Iowa; Caitlin Caldwell of Slater, Iowa; Genny Helms of Lynden, WA; Amanda and Allison Caldwell of Chico, CA, as well as great-grandchildren Gabriel, Giovanni, Gracie, and Caleigh Owen of Ames, Iowa. He is also survived by six siblings: Jo Ackart and Jim Caldwell of Waterloo, Iowa; Sharon Zurfluh of Las Vegas, Nevada; Viki Caldwell of Kirkland, WA; Jeanette Craven of Everett, WA; and Penne Peterson of Puyallup, WA. Memorial contributions may be made to the US Fund for UNICEF, Greenpeace, or the . Arrangements were provided by Westford Funeral Home and Cremation Service.
Published in Chico Enterprise-Record on Feb. 24, 2013
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