A pianist played a jazz rendition of “Amazing Grace” as colleagues, friends and students of Sally Caldwell entered the United Campus Ministry-Wesley center Friday afternoon, setting the tone for the late faculty member’s memorial service.
Caldwell, who was an associate professor of sociology, died Jan. 31 from complications of a double lung transplant last June.
Susan Day, professor in the sociology department, met Caldwell in 1975 when they were both beginning their professional careers at Oklahoma City University. Day described Caldwell as the kind of teacher who often caused students to say, “I know I got an F, but I really loved the class.”
“She was a professor who let students form their own goals—she wasn’t pushy or demanding, but she simply offered the possibilities for success,” Day said. “We’ll miss Sally. She saw teaching as a calling, not as a necessary evil in order to do more important work. Like all good teachers, she will and she does live on in her students’ appreciation and successes.”
Geography professor Lawrence Estaville told his favorite stories about Caldwell and spoke of her two best-known published books, “Romantic Deception” and “Statistics Unplugged.” Estaville described Caldwell as a “fine scholar” and as someone who cared about her community.
Caldwell was a political figure in Wimberley and involved Estaville in her initiatives, he said.
“Sally Caldwell is irreplaceable,” Estaville said. “Sally Caldwell was a high intellect. She had a fantastic humor and could make anybody laugh—and she did, a lot. But the most important thing about Sally is that she was a person of unwavering integrity.”
Estaville recently announced plans to establish an undergraduate scholarship for the Department of Sociology in honor of Caldwell. The Texas State University Development Foundation requires at least $25,000 in order to establish a scholarship fund, Estaville said. One sociology student could be awarded a $1,000 scholarship each year.
“Susan (Day) and I think that this is the best way to honor Sally at Texas State—to give back to the students,” Estaville said. “Because that’s what she did her whole career. The other day I said to Susan, ‘Hey, I’ve got $5,000.’ And Susan couldn’t be outdone, so she said, ‘I’ve got $5,000, too.’ We’re already almost halfway there.”
Kelly Mosel-Talavera, senior lecturer in the Department of Sociology, read comments at the service about Caldwell written by students and colleagues.
Some students’ comments described their respect for Caldwell, and others thanked her for making them face their fears, laugh and love statistics.
“I feel like I’m disproportionately sad about her death,” Mosel-Talavera read from a student’s statement posted on Facebook.
“We weren’t particularly close, but she had an undeniable effect on me. The way she tilted her head back to look at you through her glasses perched at the end of her nose and grinned because you laughed at the right part of the joke. It made you feel like part of some awesome club.”