May Alice Wing Caldwell (19 July 1921, Worthington, OH – 13 June 2019, Pinehurst, NC)
If you wanted to learn Matthew 5 and Matthew 6, and could not read, you only needed to watch the life of May W. Caldwell. Her life was filled with reverence and love for God, which was demonstrated by her compassionate care for others and by hospitality. At the end of her life, her joy was her extended family. She remembered with special pleasure her childhood and young adult days in Worthington, OH. She has watched the flag of the United States of America closely as it waived, honoring its past, the nation she loved deeply.Her parents were Charles Dignan Wing and Harriet Elizabeth Putman Wing of 621 Morning St., Worthington, OH. Both of her parents were U.S. Army veterans of World War One. Her mother was an Army Nurse at the Base Hospital of Camp Sherman, OH. Her father was in Company I, 4th Infantry, 3rd Division, U.S. Army, wounded at the battle of Chateau-Thierry, France on 15 JUL 1918. His right leg was amputated after returning to the United States. Her father served Worthington, OH, for many years, including as Clerk and Acting City Manager.
Her father’s brother, Allan Heckelman Wing, served in Students’ Army Training Corps (counted as Army active duty) in WW I at Hiram College, Ohio. Her mother’s sister, Beulah Putman, served in WW II as an Army Nurse, and was captured by the Japanese on Corregidor. After the war, Beulah married fellow POW, Harry Melton Robinson, Sr. Two of her mother’s brothers, James Brunner Putman and Roy Mansfield Putman, served as U.S. Marines. After a break in service, Roy served in the Army during WW II.
May adored her older brother, Harold Norman Putnam, who drowned 16 JUL 1938 in Sandusky Bay of Lake Erie near Johnson’s Island while trying to save the life of his fiancée, Dorothy Miller.
May W. Caldwell is the widow of United States Army Colonel Elmer Irvin Caldwell. Elmer and May were married in the Main Post Chapel at Ft. Bragg, NC, on 22 SEP 1940. The core of May Caldwell was her marriage to Elmer, being an Army Wife, her extended family, and her many years of volunteer service in military and civilian hospitals as a Nurse’s Aid and Gray Lady. She was an ardent parent-leader for Cub Scouts, and later of Girl Scouts while in Germany. She hosted several foreign exchange students through Francis C. Hammond High School in Alexandria, VA.
Highlights of Life
Young May lived with her parents on Worthington, OH, Village Square at 699 High Street, sharing the duplex with the Zafe and Mary Yeram family. During the Great Depression, the family moved to a farm near Linworth, OH across from the Orville and Irma Wilcox farm on Smokey Row road, to help with her father’s health. May had fond memories of her beloved friends Atha Wilcox [Wharton] and Aldean Wilcox [Alexander]. She loved feeding and caring for the farm animals and hand milking of the Jersey cows. Her favorite story is of cows taking just one lump of sugar from her hand full of 5 sugar cubes. She shared rides on her pony, Daisy, with her life-long best friend, Alice “Billie” Converse [Cross]. Farming was a challenge for her amputee father, and the family returned to Worthington to reside at 621 Morning Street. She told of her special 7th grade friend, Mary Helen Wright [Sulser]. Other friends of that era include Helen Tuller, who taught children to do cartwheels on the Village Square after church, the wonderful next door neighbors (the Bob and Mary Holaday family with daughter Sue), the Tarbutton family, the Harold “Mac” McCord family that lived in the Tarbutton house before their home closer to school, and the village marshal, Jim Talladay.
May’s lifetime of hospitality and generosity to friends and strangers had it roots in the examples of her parents. The Wing address was written on the train station wall during the Great Depression. People who needed shelter were not turned away by Harriet and Charles Wing. There was always plenty of food and words of cheer at the Wing house on Morning Street. May continued this tradition. Like other American families, she set food on the back porch (to not offend their dignity) for people to gather in post-war Dambach, Germany. She supplied groceries for needy old town Alexandria, Virginia, residents in the early 1960s.
May learned dance, and studied singing and piano as a child and young adult. She often remarks with thankfulness that because of the Great Depression, she had wonderful and demanding teachers who were professors at Ohio State in need of extra income. Much of her early Worthington, OH years centered on the Village of Worthington and St. John’s Episcopal Church, where she played the organ while it was still a hand-pump organ (later fitted with an electric powered blower). She still fondly recalls that all adults in the small village were called “aunt” or “uncle” by the children, even in school. She remembers the transition from Dr. George Bonnell, Sr. to his son, Dr. George Bonnell, Jr. in their medical practice on Village Square. The elderly ladies lovingly teased young George as a son at a time he was establishing a professional life. They all liked him.
May Wing graduated in the Worthington High School Class of 1939, but started at Ohio State University in 1938. She was a pre-med student in the college of Arts and Sciences, while helping with care for her father. Her favorite zoology professor, Dr. Larry Snyder, and his wife Guldborg, were life-long friends that later frequented May’s pool in Hawai’i. May was a member of the Upsilon Chapter of Phi Mu Sorority and an Associate Member of the Strollers Dramatic Society. She left OSU to be the war bride of her graduating OSU sweetheart, Elmer Caldwell.
During World War Two, May W. Caldwell returned to Worthington, Ohio with her infant son, Harold. She was the family correspondent, and helped parents while raising her son. Only her letters to her mother’s sister (a World War Two U.S. Army Nurse) got through American and Japanese censers and were received by Beulah Putman [Robinson] in the Santo Tomas prisoner of war camp in the Philippines. May realized that home condition reports would not be allowed through, so she wrote about her St. Bernard dog, “Charlie”, without identifying it as a dog. It had the Japanese confused, and Beulah entertained.
For two post-war years, Elmer and May owned “The Village Restaurant” at 185 West 11th Avenue, where they lived when their second son was born. May fondly remembers two cooks, Ella Hardy and Jeanette. Elmer returned to active duty at Ft. Sill, OK. May returned to Worthington, OH during the Korean War, now with 2 boys.
When permitted, May followed Elmer around the world, including one year in Maebashi, Japan (1952) with her maid, Hiaku, and three years in Germany (1957-1960) in Mainz, Nürnberg, and Schwäbisch-Hall with her maid, Hilda. May astonished her maids by joining as a co-worker in household chores. May took seriously her role to represent America and to bridge cultures by learning languages, studying local culture and history, and making friends off-post. She loved the people she met on her many travels. She became famous for making Lebkuchen. She loved the three years in Aiea, Hawai’i (1968-1971), particularly with Hawai’ian neighbors and their children who learned to swim and be a lifeguard in her pool.
May cared for family members in their last days, including: her husband Elmer Irvin Caldwell, his brother Curtis W. Caldwell, her mother Harriet Putman Wing, and her aunt Beulah Putman Robinson. She was a frequent visitor (an 8-hour one way drive) to Elmer’s mother, Myrtle Caldwell.
May enjoyed the seniors ministry of The Village Chapel in Pinehurst, NC, and the blessing of receiving Holy Communion at home. Special thanks to Betty Miller, Sarah Graves, Debbie Brown, Judy Mantel, Janet Lowry, Roy Longhta, and Jan Ellis, who collectively worked hard to make late life meaningful for May and others.
May once was very talented on the piano and organ, playing classical and sacred music. She had a few years of joy singing with the Moore County Choral Society. May still shed joyful tears at hearing music she once played and sang so well, including her love-song for Elmer: “Indian Love Call”, and sacred music: Ave Maria, the Halleluiah Chorus of Handel’s Messiah, “How Great Thou Art”, and “Holy, Holy, Holy”.
May was predeceased by her husband, Col. Elmer Irvin Caldwell on 28 JUL 2008, and her first son, Harold Ernest Caldwell (born 05 OCT 1941 at Ft. Bragg, NC, died 27 June 2010, Austin, TX). Son James Allen Caldwell (born 07 DEC 1953, Lima, Ohio) died hours after birth. May used that occasion to teach Curtis about heaven.
May is survived by her second son, Curtis Irvin Caldwell (born 04 MAR 1947, Columbus, OH) and his wife Susan Marian Belcher Caldwell.
Grandchildren and their descendants and families of Elmer and May are.
Descendants of Harold Caldwell and Francesca Patricia Sidoti Caldwell:
Michael Christopher Caldwell and his children: Brian Anthony, Julia Alexandra, and Brendan Christopher, and their mother Maryanne Carol Wysell.
Descendants of Harold Caldwell and Patricia Irene Kiss Meads Caldwell (deceased):
Michael Kay Caldwell and wife Maryann Duffy Caldwell of Hauppauge, NY, and their daughter Sarahrose.
Robert Caldwell and his children Matthew James, Robert Harold, and Leah Lauren, and their mother, Susan Carol Spaw Caldwell. The children of Robert Harold Caldwell and his wife Joy Marie are Zachary Kahn and Kairi Danielle. The children of Leah Lauren and Paul Crump are Autumn Leah Peacock, and Lydia Morgan and Xander Noelle Crump.
Michelle Kathryn Caldwell Arguelles and husband Antonio Uresti Arguelles II, and their children Antonio Miguel Arguelles III, Andreos Martin Arguelles, Augustin Mateo Arguelles, and Amador Mignon Arguelles.
Tiffany May Caldwell Harwood and husband Christopher, and children: Sean Ashton Williams and Hali Patricia Williams, their father Sean Patrick Williams and step-daughter Ashley Nicole Williams.
Elizabeth Patricia Caldwell, and children: Frank Michael Bruno, James Anthony Bruno, Jason Harold Caldwell, and Sebastian Alexander Caldwell, and their father Frank Paul Bruno.
Descendent of Curtis Irvin Caldwell and Susan Marion Belcher Caldwell: Joshua Benjamin Lee Caldwell.
May was pre-deceased by her life-long best friend, Alice “Billie” Converse Cross. Other close family members include:
Charles Allan Green, and his sister Mary Jane Green Schaller.
Patricia Anne Venham Sickles and her husband Fred, and their adult children Ashleigh Sickles and Tyler Sickles and his wife Alysa Ann.
Shirley Duckworth, her adult children: John Edmund Duckworth, Mark Leonard Duckworth, and Stefanie Ann Duckworth Nelson, and their families.
Dorothy Caldwell, and her adult children and families: Jean Ann Caldwell, Nancy Marie Caldwell, Nina Jane Caldwell McCutcheon, and Ernest Ford Caldwell II.
Marguerite May Caldwell Phillips, and her daughter: Carma Jean Phillips Sauers and her husband Richard David Sauers.
In lieu of flowers, please donate for aid to the needy through the church or organization of your choice.
The Service for Burial of the Dead, with Holy Communion, will be held at 10:30 a.m. Friday, June 21, 2019 at St. John's Episcopal Church, 700 High St. Worthington, Ohio 43085. The Rev. Stephen Applegate, officiating. Burial will follow immediately at Walnut Grove Cemetery, Worthington, Ohio.