Community mourns Dr. Fred Caldwell

Wednesday, January 12, 2022

Dr. Fred Caldwell, who died Tuesday, Jan. 11, 2022, is described as a pillar of the community and his church. He lived his life according to biblical principles of kindness, generosity, strength and compassion, according to those who knew him best.

“Dr. Fred Caldwell did not live his life for self, he lived for a savior,” First Baptist Church lead pastor Brandon Spain said. “He was a man who was perfectly fine with living in the shadows so the savior could receive all the glory and honor.”

When Spain thinks of Caldwell, he said, the word “that comes to my mind would be he was a pillar for this community and for our church. He will greatly be missed, his influence will be missed, his wisdom will be missed.”

Caldwell was a man who loved the Lord, he loved his family and he loved people, said Spain, adding “that’s why I believe, for a long time, he was probably known as Poplar Bluff’s doctor.

“He impacted more lives than we could ever count,” Spain said. “The legacy he leaves will impact people for generations.”

Caldwell was a mentor to countless others in the medical profession, helped start medical facilities that have served thousands of residents, served with United Gospel Rescue Mission and supported men’s and veterans’ recovery centers, among many other efforts in the community.

Joey McLane, president of First Midwest Bank and a United Gospel Rescue Mission board member, said. “Fred was a good, good man.

“He was a great example for all of us. He lived his life according to biblical principles, kindness, generosity, strength, compassion. More than that, Fred had a great sense of humor and was a joy to be around.”

McLane said, in line with those principles is why he helped serve those in need at the Rescue Mission.

“He did it faithfully for many years, and we’re going to miss him tremendously,” McLane said.

Dr. Donald Piland of Poplar Bluff said, “Dr. Fred was an icon in the medical profession in Poplar Bluff. He taught so many students and physicians, not only the science, but the art of medicine. I would say he taught all of us to treat not only the disease, but also the patient who had the disease.”

Continuing, Piland said, “Fred ushered in, I would say, a new modern-day medicine in Poplar Bluff. He brought so many changes to the area. He was instrumental in starting Northwest Medical Center, which later morphed into Physicians Park. He was instrumental in bringing cardioversion, the electrical cardioversion to restart the heart to Poplar Bluff.”

He just did so many things for the people of Poplar Bluff from a medical standpoint, Piland said.

“I would say not only was he a man of science, but he was a man of character. He taught us all, both by his words and by his actions, how to live life as Christian men and women. He had a huge impact on all of us as physicians, particularly as a mentor to most of us,” Piland continued.

Bishop Ron Webb of Mount Calvary Powerhouse Church echoed Piland’s thoughts.

Webb said, “No. 1, he loved God, and he loved his family.

“Dr. Fred was one of the greatest men in our community, the greatest servant. He was the epitome of a servant. He was one of the kindest, most respectful gentlemen you will ever meet.”

Webb remembers Caldwell “worked behind the scenes, and never wanted any notoriety or any fanfare. He was just a very humble man and very, very generous.”

When Webb’s church started its restoration center 20-plus years ago, “he was one of our first donors.”

He did several adopt-a-rooms for the new facility at the restoration center and later he did things for the veterans’ home, Webb said. “He did a lot of work behind the scenes and collected money from other businessmen in town,” Webb said. “When he would give a donation, he was very generous, but he would never want you to mention anything. He said, ‘we’re doing it for the good Lord, you know, and not for publicity.’ He’s been a quiet supporter, behind the scenes for many, many years.

“He left a legacy for all of us. He was just a great example, as a Christian in our community.”

Caldwell took care of multiple patients outside of his practice, from the restoration center, Webb said.

That was one of the highlights of the restoration center. There were a few other physicians who followed suit, but he was the first one to say “if those young men or young ladies need help getting off of drugs, then don’t worry about them having money or insurance,” Webb said. “(He said,) ‘you bring them to me. Whoever you bring to me, I’ll take care of them.’ Dr. Fred did that.”

Dr. Ben Till worked with Caldwell at Kneibert Clinic and Doctors Regional Medical Center, before Caldwell opened Northwest Medical Center.

Till recalled, Caldwell was “a very caring person. He was a family physician at Kneibert Clinic, where I was a medical director. He was on the executive committee and was very active and knowledgeable in family practice medicine. “

Caldwell was mentor to several physicians and “was an example of a good, old-time family physician with modern knowledge,” Till said.

Recalling Caldwell and his family, Till said, “he had a great wife and a nice family, all of them were extremely dedicated to him. He was a good, all-around family physician.”

Retired Daily American Republic editor and publisher John Stanard recalled meeting Caldwell. Stanard had joined his family at the newspaper and was sent to interview Caldwell, when the new doctor arrived in Poplar Bluff.

“Dad sent me out to Kneibert Clinic to interview him. I remember, he was quite an outgoing person,” Stanard said. “He was a really nice person. He immediately started an outstanding practice and had many patients in a hurry.

“He was a very popular doctor and was so well received in the community. It was my privilege to get acquainted with him by talking to him and interviewing him. He certainly was a real asset to the community.”

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