WILLIAMSBURG — Dr. William Thomas “Bill” Caldwell III, 91, passed away peacefully Friday, Jan. 8, 2021, with loved ones at his side. Bill was born June 4, 1929, in Camden, New Jersey, to William T. Caldwell Jr. and Rose Mary (McGinness) Caldwell.
He spent his youth in Moorestown, New Jersey, where he attended the Moorestown Friends School before graduating from The Taft School in Waterbury, Connecticut, in 1946. He joined the U.S. Naval Reserve Officers Training Corps at Princeton University at the age of 17. He completed the NROTC Midshipman Practice Cruise at the U.S. Naval Academy, Annapolis, Maryland, in 1947. He earned a B.S. Degree (Chemistry) from Princeton University in 1950 and a Medical Degree from Columbia University in 1954. Bill served in the U.S. Navy from 1954 to 1958 as lieutenant in the Medical Corps and as a flight surgeon on the USS Franklin D. Roosevelt. In 1958, he left active duty to begin a residency in ophthalmology at Columbia Presbyterian Hospital in NYC.
Bill met the love of his life, Betty Ann Mason, in Lavallette, New Jersey, and they married in June of 1952. After serving in the U.S. Navy and completing his residency, he began a successful ophthalmology practice in Red Bank, New Jersey. He and Betty Ann raised their three children in Shrewsbury and Fair Haven, New Jersey, where he was able to pursue his passion for the sea.
Bill built his DN Iceboat, “Little Blue,” now docked in the Small Craft wing of the Mariners’ Museum in Newport News, and designed his wooden boat, “The Betty Boop II,” on which he spent many happy times exploring the rivers, bays and ocean.
He was a member of the Shrewsbury River Yacht Club, the North Shrewsbury Ice Boat and Yacht Club, the Lavallette Yacht Club, the Rumson Presbyterian Church and the Union Church of Lavallette. He was an avid fisherman and woodworker, building many intricate ship models over the years. He loved reading, especially historical and nautical themes.
Bill had a special place in his heart for Lavallette, New Jersey, where he spent many happy summers with his family. It was here that he instilled in his three children his love for the sea. A devoted family man, he ensured that his three children were competent ocean swimmers. He was proud to have taught his son to surf, sail, ice boat, fish and woodworking. Together, they enjoyed these father-son activities over their lifetimes. He loved telling the story of when he and his dad swam the entire one-mile length of the Lavallette boardwalk. He semi-retired to Lavallette in 1991, where he enjoyed the beach, boating and fishing until settling in Williamsburg for his retirement in 1998.
In retirement, he enjoyed pursuing many of his passions, birdwatching, classes at Christopher Wren, being a docent at the Mariners’ Museum in Newport News, building ship models and crewing on sailboats. He and Betty Ann made several trips to Scotland, one of his favorite places. He taught himself Scottish Gaelic and loved Celtic music and culture. While in Williamsburg, he and Betty Ann enjoyed spending time with his two sisters and their families who also retired to Williamsburg.
He was preceded in death by his beloved sister, Margaret Caldwell Karb (Alan); and his beloved son, William M. Caldwell (Wendy).
Bill is survived by his wife of 68 years, Betty Ann (Mason) Caldwell; youngest sister, Mary Rose “Pattee” (Caldwell) Schlatter (David) of Williamsburg; and two daughters, Linda Ann Werner (Bill) of Wisconsin and Mary Ellen Caldwell of Colorado. He had four grandchildren, William J. Werner (Ida), Michael T. Werner (Melanie), Eric M. Werner and Patrick O. Murphy; and two great-grandchildren, Abram B. and Willa B. Werner.
The family would like to thank the staff at The Williamsburg Landing Health and Rehab Center for the wonderful care he received in his last year, as well as his two special caregivers, Tina and Beverly, who were devoted to him.
There will be a celebration of his life at a future date when it is safe to gather. Bill was devastated when he lost his son to pancreatic cancer in 2018; donations in Bill’s memory may be made to Pancreatic Cancer Action Network.
Share online condolences with the family at Bucktrout of Williamsburg Funeral Service.