Town honors Caldwell with street-namingPublished 9:24am Monday, April 29, 2013
Longtime council member and former mayor Thomas C. Caldwell had a street named after him last week.
Mayor Michael Holton unveiled the sign for the new Thomas Caldwell Drive, an access road connecting First Avenue with Claud Road, running parallel to Main Street.
“We wanted to do this for someone who put a lot of love, a lot of care for people both inside and outside these town limits,” Councilwoman Wanda Estes said. “There aren’t enough words to describe what he’s done for this town through the years.”
Caldwell travelled the road for decades, as he worked and then just helped out at Johnson’s Hardware Store. In addition to the street, he was presented the key to the city and April 19 was declared Thomas C. Caldwell Day in the town of Eclectic.
Caldwell served on the Eclectic Town Council for more than 28 years. Caldwell, the only black member of the council, was elected to seven consecutive terms even though, as a town of fewer than 2,000 residents, Eclectic was not required to have a minority council seat.
Vicki Oliver, a neighbor who looks after Caldwell as his health declines, expressed Caldwell and the family’s appreciation.
“He’s a wonderful man and he’s still trying to do everything he can for others,” she said. “I have to get onto him sometimes for still working as hard as he does. This needs to be his time to relax.”
Caldwell was the president pro tem of the town council for more than a decade. When former mayor Gary Wright resigned the position during the summer of 2010, Caldwell was elevated to the office, becoming the first black mayor in the town’s history. He served for more than two months, before resigning his council seat after being passed over for the appointment by then-Gov. Bob Riley.
Former council member Lue Vanie Thompson, who served three terms with Caldwell, said the honor was “way past due, and I’m glad to they did it.”
Resident Jean Pearson noted that Caldwell came over for years to help her light her pilot light and get her Claud Road home ready each winter.