Elizabeth Jane Caldwell | News, Sports, Jobs


Elizabeth Jane Caldwell, proud Saranac Lake public school teacher of 32 years, died peacefully in her sleep on Oct. 2, 2022 — a beautiful fall day. She was 94 years old, and for the past few years, living in the Alice Center in Malone.

Born on Nov. 26, 1927 in Hudson Falls, Elizabeth was the daughter of World War I veteran and car salesman, Martin Shea, and Dora Yarter Shea, a hardworking seamstress who valued the independent paycheck she earned from the local Brone Shirt Factory. For her only, and older sister Marguerite, Elizabeth would always be known as Betty, the childhood name Elizabeth endeavored to leave behind until reaching her twilight years at the Alice Center, and, coming full circle, became Betty once again.

Betty attended the public schools in Hudson Falls and was the first in her family to attend college, heading to SUNY Plattsburgh and majoring in Elementary Education. Later, she would attain a Master’s in Education there, too. During her summers between school, she waited tables in Schroon Lake where, Betty, becoming “Liz,” met David Caldwell. David was operating “The World’s Finest Taxi Cab” at the time, a souped-up, checkered taxi cab he drove, ushering summer clientele to and from New York City. Something clearly happened across those dining tables, as Liz would graduate from college, and ignoring her family’s comments (How could she move to the Boonies? The sticks?) she would marry David on April 15, 1963 at St. Mary’s Catholic Church in Hudson Falls. The couple would move to Saranac Lake briefly, before settling where Liz would spend much of her adult life, on Easy Street in Paul Smiths.

Paul Smiths made sense. David, a Paul Smiths College alum, began working for the college as an admissions counselor and recruiter, and was, during the 1960s, one of the first people to identify and recruit basketball players from New York, Jersey City and Baltimore to play ball in the North Country. After giving birth to two children, Liza and Christopher, Liz began teaching kindergarten at the Vermontville one-room school house. She would go on to teach at Bloomingdale and finally Petrova, where, as common practice, she fought 12-mile drives of snowstorms on the way to school each morning and still, never took a sick day during her career.

Liz’s greatest reward, and a sure way to light up her face no matter the weather, was for you to recognize her on Main Street and say, “Why, Mrs. Caldwell, I had you in second grade!” Chances were she still had your Christmas present, the handmade necklace you made her as that second-grader.

During her retired years, Liz stepped fully into being Elizabeth, as she was known at Will Rogers, and experienced joy, fun and adventures. She loved touring overseas with other teachers, as well as volunteering in many community activities including Meals on Wheels, the hospital, heading up the bake sale for the Saranac Lake Free Library’s annual book sale and supporting Al-Anon and the North Country Council on Alcoholism. Throughout, Elizabeth’s connection to the Catholic church was important to her as were the joys of rediscovering childhood by becoming a grandparent.

Elizabeth’s family is especially appreciative of the staff and residents of Will Rogers and the staff, nurses and doctors at the Alice Center in Malone who gave Elizabeth a life beyond Easy Street.

Elizabeth, predeceased by her husband, David, in 1989, is survived by her two children and their families: Her daughter, Liza Caldwell of New York City and her daughters, Gillian Collins of Eugene, Oregon and Haleigh Collins, of New Haven, Connecticut; and her son and his family, Christopher and Elaine Caldwell and their daughter Lauryn of Saranac Lake. Forever dear to Elizabeth’s heart are her nephew and nieces and their families: Francis (“Augie”) Tarantino and his wife Barbara, and Cheryl Linehan and Joan Tarantino of Hudson Falls.

Mass services will be held at Church of the Assumption in Gabriels, New York at 10 a.m. Saturday, Oct. 8, followed by Elizabeth’s burial at St. John’s in the Wilderness Church Cemetery in Paul Smiths, and a 12 p.m. lunch reception at the Visitor Interpretive Center (“The VIC”) in Paul Smiths.

In lieu of flowers, please consider donating to St. Bernard’s School (63 River St., Saranac Lake, NY 12983) or the Alzheimer’s Association.

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