A Life Live: Tommy Caldwell was an outdoorsman, jack of many trades

Published 1:08 pm Tuesday, November 2, 2021

BY ROZELLA HARDIN
Editorial Director
rozella.hardin@elizabethton.com
Thomas “Tommy” A. Caldwell didn’t consider himself to be a jack of all trades, but, he was a master of many trades. Tommy could no most things he set his mind to do. “He could weld, do plumbing and electrical work. He could build things and he loved to cook and preserve foods,” said his daughter, Heather Fritz. And, that is not a complete list of things that Tommy could do.
He enjoyed playing the guitar and listening to “Jesus music” and his other joys included fishing, hunting, and trapping and spending time with his daughters and grandchildren.
Tommy Caldwell died October 15 at the age of 63. “My dad suffered from COPD, and in the end it kept him from doing many of the things he enjoyed,” said Heather.
Tommy lived in the Valley Forge community in the same house that he grew up in. “It had been home to him since he was two years old,” said Heather.
Tommy enjoyed hunting, especially deer. In fact, his house was filled with hunting trophies — deer heads, bear heads, bear skins, snakes, and prize fish — many of which decorated the walls of his home. “It was like walking into a wildlife museum,” shared Heather. In fact, he most recently had been teaching his grandson how to tie flies for fishing and together, they had started a worm (night crawlers) garden.
“He enjoyed being with his grandchildren, from fishing with them to making scrambled egg sandwiches for Zachary. He had five grandchildren and they were the light of his life” said Heather, who has a sister, Savanna Cable.
Heather shared her father was a “very good” cook. He especially enjoyed grilling foods, and more recently had got into making jerky and canning. “He had gotten a new dehydrator, which he used to make jerky. He made jerky of all kinds — deer, bear, and even turkey jerky,” Heather shared.
His latest hobby was canning. He made different jams and jellies, canned green beans and potatoes, and this year he did corn. “He put 24 dozen ears of corn in the freezer in addition to other vegetables and meats. We have freezers full of food he has preserved,” said Heather.
In addition to his cooking, Tommy had a knack for making natural remedies, such as making red oak tea and ginger root tea. Some were used for toothaches, mouth ulcers, coughs, etc. “He had all kinds of recipes for homemade medicines,” said Heather.
Perhaps, his greatest love aside from his family was for his church at Sunrise Free Will Baptist Church and his Lord. Tommy played the guitar for his church. Additionally, he spent hours at home playing the guitar and listening to “Jesus music.” He played by ear and played both the bass and acoustic guitar.
“My dad was always busy doing something for someone. He enjoyed building things, fixing things, and it pleased him if he could fix something for a neighbor or a friend. He was a smart man, who stayed busy, and I miss him so much,” said Heather through sobs.
“But, today he has ultimate healing. He has left us with so many good memories, so much love, and an example of how to live. He gave me and my sister the best of himself and showered love on our children. We never lacked for love from him,” Heather said.
In addition to his two daughters, their husbands and children, Tommy leaves behind five sisters, an uncle and aunt, and several nephews, nieces and cousins.
A friend, Starr Yeager of Roan Mountain, summed it up best on the funeral home’s guestbook entries. She wrote: “He (Tommy) was very much loved…and loved everybody in return.”