The Rev. R. Martin Caldwell Jr., 84, died Monday, May 27 at UNC Memorial Hospital, 48 hours after a fall. He never regained consciousness after neurosurgery early May 26 to stop bleeding that developed in his brain.
Martin loved and was beloved by his wife Elizabeth “Ki” Shinnick Caldwell, his three daughters and three grandchildren, and a host of loyal friends. The couple had moved May 23 to Chapel Hill from their longtime home in Durham. They were looking forward to their “retirement” although he was still planning to officiate at various churches from time to time.
Martin was born Aug. 5, 1928 to Ralph M. Caldwell Sr. and Ruth Caroline E. Caldwell in Spartanburg, S.C. His sister, Nancy C. Carlisle of Spartanburg and her children survive him.
He graduated from Davidson College in 1947, Duke Divinity School, and earned degrees from Columbia University and General Seminary in New York. He was an Episcopal priest for 60 years. His longest serving parish was Emmanuel Episcopal Church in Southern Pines, where he said he left a piece of his heart. After his resignation in 1975 he delighted in connecting with former parishioners from Emmanuel, oftentimes conducting their weddings and funerals, and watching its youth grow up.
Martin is survived by daughter Jennifer C. Vogel and her husband Vann of Basking Ridge, N.J.; their children Katharine, Peter, and Susanna; daughter Rebecca C. Fowler and her husband Oscar of Loudon, Tenn., and Ki’s daughter Whitney B. Vaughan of Durham, whom Martin loved as his own. They remember his love first for people and their stories, but also history books and gardening. They cherish memories of his bad jokes and puns, his love of crossword puzzles, funny handwriting, burned pancakes, “Dinosaur milk” and his many, many books.
Services will be held at 11 a.m. on June 8 at St. Stephen’s Episcopal Church in the Hope Valley section of Durham. Visitation is from 6-8 p.m. Friday at Hall & Wynne Funeral Service, 113 W. Main St., Durham. Online condolences at www.hallwynne.com.