July 3, 1944 — June 30, 2021
Ronald George Caldwell was born July 3, 1944, in Riverside, California, and died June 30, 2021 in Oregon City, Oregon.
He was a gentleman and a scholar. Loving, smart, talented, funny and kind, he was the best of us. Cliches for sure, though the man was nothing but genuine. Ronnie died at home after a brief period of in-home hospice surrounded by his family.
He loved fishing, backpacking, bicycling and tennis, but mostly he loved to walk. Few men walked like Ronnie did. Though he was passionate about food, drink and sports, walking seemed to be his real sustenance. Whether hoofing miles down a sandy coastline or trudging over a mountain pass, Ronnie adored nature and explored the world on his feet.
Even more pivotal, Ronnie loved his family. He was an exemplary husband. For 55 years, he never lost his commitment of marriage to his Donna. Together they built a union of respect and honor, coupled with unconditional love. As a father, he was the ultimate role model, guiding his two sons through the mazes of early life and the hardships of adulthood. Later he became a proud grandfather, bending over backwards and always being present to show his grandkids the wonders of humanity and the world. He leaves them with powerful memories of flying kites on the beach, the intrigue of board games and so many stories of life’s promise.
Ronnie was a student, mentor and teacher. He was raised in Visalia, California, then attended Chico State earning his BS and MS. In 1969, he began a lifelong career at BMCC. Widely revered in Pendleton, Oregon, as “the psych prof.,” he shepherded hundreds through the tricky fields of psychology, human sexuality and the social sciences. He taught all of us a passion for life.
His own life was seriously threatened in 2002 due to sudden liver failure of unknown etiology. He was fortunate to find a match and a liver transplant at OHSU, affording him 17 more precious years, and the ability to watch his first grandson graduate high school, and to meet four others.
Recovering from the transplant and retiring after 31 years of service at BMCC, Ronnie pursued a new passion — harmonica. Like so many things in his life, Ronnie embraced his music, practicing daily, and jamming out in pubs during weekends. He even took his skills to Hawaii where he learned to play in the Aloha style. Through his music he earned an additional identity as the “Blues Harmonica Man.”
Influence paired with excitement, joy and love are the gifts Ronnie gave this world. His stories and our memories will be lasting, treasured gifts.
Ronnie was preceded in death by his parents, Vivian (Root) and George Caldwell of Visalia, California; and in-laws, Juanita (Cooper) and Rex McDaniel who rest at Willamette National Cemetery. He is survived by his wife, two sons and five grandchildren.
A celebration of life will be held at the Great Pacific Wine & Coffee Co. on Sunday, Aug. 1, 2021, from 1-4 p.m. Arrangements are with Pendleton Pioneer Chapel, Folsom-Bishop.