Bethany Morgan Rowell Caldwell was born to Shepherd and Lucile Rowell on September 9, 1933 in Albertville, Alabama. Her parents divorced when she was two, they both remarried and she was loved by her step-father, Ike, and her step-mother, Helen.
Growing up, she had close relationships with her great-grandmother, grandmother, aunts, uncles and cousins. Her extended family was an inspiration to Bethany throughout her life. She was born into a family of people who were hard working, concerned and involved with their communities and used their gifts to leave a legacy of achievement. They had deep values, strong wills and no mixed messages of morality or integrity. All of those wonderful traits were passed on to Bethany.
Beth will be remembered as a loving wife, mother, grandmother, great-grandmother and friend. She was a wise and supportive presence to her family and friends.
Beth was educated in the Alabama public school system. She graduated from Albertville High School at the age of 16. She enrolled in Huntington College for Girls in Montgomery where she graduated with a degree in Sociology and minor in Education. Upon graduation, she moved to Mobile to be with her mother who worked as a school teacher and librarian. Beth applied for a job with social services and while waiting on that job, she had an opportunity to become a governess to the children of an insurance executive and moved to New York. She attended Broadway plays, became a social secretary planning dinners and parties for her employer. She traveled and lived in Spain and Portugal while working for this family.
When her time as a governess ended, she moved back to Mobile and started her job at social services. Her next move was to Atlanta working with the Red Cross doing social work in hospitals.
In 1956, she took a position at Fort Jackson in Columbia, South Carolina. She met a young Lieutenant named Keith Caldwell and they went on a first date to a Christmas Party. They were engaged in February of 1957 and married June 22, 1957.
In 1958, Keith was offered the opportunity to buy an optometric practice in Winder. He bought the practice and Keith and Beth moved to town. During their first year in Winder, they became members of the First United Methodist Church in which they served in many leadership and committee roles. Beth taught at Winder Barrow High School and joined the Thursday Bridge Club where she made friendships that lasted 60 years.
Keith and Beth started a family. “Little” Keith, was born in 1959, Julie in 1962 and Chris in 1965. From the time they moved to Winder to raise a family, Keith and Beth served unselfishly in the city and county they loved. They supported and respected one another and both Keith and Beth were able to fulfill many dreams and make a difference in the lives of people in Winder and Barrow County.
Beth began working in the Department of Family and Children Services. She was instrumental in forming the Barrow County Child Development Center and the Family Counseling Center through First United Methodist Church. She was a member of the Winder Woman’s Club where she served as vice-president and as president. She served on several state strategic committees with the Northeast Georgia Area and Planning Commission including law enforcement and day care committees. She served on the Association of County Commissioners Economic and Transportation Committee and the Upper Oconee Water Basin Board.
Beth continued to set her sights on serving her community. In 1974, she ran and was elected to the Winder City Council and served as the first woman elected to the council. She later was elected to the Barrow County Board of Education and then the Barrow County Board of Commissioners.
In 1991, she helped establish the Winder-Barrow Certified Literate Community Coalition to address the county’s high illiteracy rate. She then led county leaders and citizens in a move to bring college opportunities to Barrow County and in 2002 Lanier Technical College came to Barrow County. In 2016 Lanier Technical College dedicated their campus libraries and named them Beth Caldwell Library honoring her dedication to Lanier Technical College.
In response to her unselfish service, leadership and devotion to governmental and educational issues in her community, Beth received several awards and commendations through the years.
Beth will be greatly missed by her family, friends and the community.
Beth was preceded in death by her husband Keith of 62 years; and son-in-law, Dale Sanders.
She is survived by her children, Keith and his wife Vicky, Julie Nemetz and her husband Joe, and Chris and his wife Julie; grandchildren, Ryne and Tiffany Caldwell, Elyse Hunter, Laithem Caldwell, Patrick and Alyssa Sanders, Peyton Sanders, Andrew Caldwell and Katherine Caldwell; great-grandchildren, Kaylie and Jackson Caldwell, Bristol Hunter and Caleb Sanders.
The family wishes to thank the incredible staff at Magnolia Estates for the loving care that everyone gave mother during her final years and to the nurses and staff of Agape Hospice that made mother’s final weeks comfortable.
The family appreciates all prayers at this time and will have a private graveside ceremony. We will have a memorial service celebrating mother’s well-lived life when it is deemed safe to gather.
Beth was a founder and passionate supporter of adult literacy in our community. The family requests that in lieu of flowers, her life be remembered with memorials to Adult Literacy Barrow at 163 Martin Luther King, Jr. Drive, Winder, Georgia 30680 or to the Winder First United Methodist Church at 280 North Broad St., Winder, Ga. 30680.
Smith Funeral Home, Winder is entrusted with the arrangements.