George R. Caldwell

George Raymond “Bud” Caldwell made his debut on planet Earth at St. Therese Hospital in Waukegan, IL on February 24th, 1932.

Two months in to his 89th year, Bud peacefully passed away in “his own bed” and in the loving care and company of his adult children on April 24, 2021 when his determined and steadfast heart could no longer overcome the ravages of its disease.

As he envisioned it, Bud enjoyed three overlapping careers during his lifetime.

After serving for a year and a half in the U.S. Naval Reserves Harbour Defense Command unit stationed in Little Creek, VA, Bud returned home and entered the work force and began forging his first career which saw him employed in the printing industry for 36 years holding various occupations including pressman, shop owner, and regional salesman. But early on, even before the ink was dry on his first proof sheets, he fell head-over-heels into his second career as a deeply devoted family man, marrying his one and only true love, Elizabeth “Betty” Van Housen on June 8th, 1957. The two of them would spend 56 years together raising three very fortunate kids before Betty’s untimely death on April 15, 2013.

Bud’s third career was borne of an awakening. With the confidence, energy, and adventurousness typical of a young father, he quite unexpectedly found himself cast as El Gallo in Fond du Lac’s Community Theatre production of the 1960 musical “The Fantasticks”. It was then that he discovered the magical fusion of music and storytelling and, in no time at all, the musical and theatrical muses had grabbed him by his very soul. His passion as a performing artist spanned more than 50 years during which time he directed and/or performed in scores of stage productions with Fond du Lac’s Community Theater. Along with El Gallo, some of his favorite roles included Tevye in “Fiddler On The Roof”, Harry Truman in “Give ‘em Hell, Harry!”, Luther Billis in “South Pacific”, Fagin in “Oliver!” and John Adams in “1776”. He also enjoyed taking up roles in various local independent films, along with occasional appearances in TV or print commercials. Bud enjoyed a special sense of kinship and community when sharing his beautiful baritone voice and enthusiastic showmanship with so many of the residents of local senior citizen homes who, like himself, were closing in on a final curtain call.

Bud was the first of 2 sons, and 1 of 6 children born to Raymond and Lucille Caldwell of Gurnee, IL. He was preceded in death by his beloved wife, Elizabeth “Betty”, and her parents, Earl and Ethel Van Housen, and by his parents Raymond and Lucille. Also preceding him in death were his brother, Richard “Riley” Caldwell (Janet), his sister and brother-in-law Elaine and Frank Andersen, and his sister and brother-in-law Carol and Harley Bone. He is survived by his sister Rita Miskowski of Kalamazoo, MI (Brother-in-law, Wally, preceded him in death.) He is also survived by his children Kyle Caldwell of Milwaukee, WI, Christopher Caldwell of Chicago, IL, and Sarah Westphal (Duane) of Hustisford, WI.

He could not have been any prouder of his nine surviving grandchildren; Adam, Erin, Ian, Evan [of Kyle]; Emmet, Lucy [of Christopher]; and Andrew Christensen (Kate), Katelyn Soltis (Jake), Kelsey Faulkner (Carson) [of Sarah]. His four surviving great-grandchildren; Landon and Reid (Christensen) and Jayden and Jaxon (Soltis), lovingly knew him as “GG Buddy”.

Betty’s cousins, Rich and Karen Martinez, of Valparaiso, IN, are also mourning his loss as is his dear and fondest companion, Marian Costello.

Bud spent the lion’s share of his final days reaching out to his many friends, neighbors, and extended family members, wanting them to know how grateful he was to have had them as part of his life’s tapestry. His endless aching to reunite with Betty on the other side was tempered by a persistent presence of “earthly angels”. So, to all those extraordinarily generous folks who provided home-cooked meals, companionship, phone calls, transportation assistance, medical care, and so many other wonderfully nurturing acts of kindness, Bud and his family extend their loving gratitude.

Funeral services will be carried out by Zacherl Funeral Home.

Visitation will take place on May 1, 2021, from Noon until 3:00 p.m., at Zacherl Funeral Home, 875 E. Division St., Fond du Lac, with a service immediately following officiated by longtime family friend and former Fond du Lac resident, Richard Hutchison.

In lieu of flowers, donations can be made in Bud’s name to hospice care provider, SSM Health at Home.