NEWBERRY — A packed house at Newberry County Council on Wednesday honored and surprised a local pioneer.
John Caldwell was called out for his 30 years on council and his service to the county. The council also proclaimed Wednesday as John E. Caldwell day.
The specifics of the recognition had been left off the agenda in hopes of surprising Caldwell, who came into the council chambers to find it filled with family and friends.
Caldwell was elected to the council in 1983 and served as its chair from 1997 until 2002.
He is the longest serving member in the history of service on county council, according to County Administrator Wayne Adams.
In addition to having served on council, Caldwell also has served on the S.C. Association of Counties and National Association of Counties.
Adams also proclaimed that Caldwell was a pioneer in human relations, fairness and following the Robert’s Rules of Order.
In fact, Adams said Caldwell was a “professor in the Robert’s Rules of Order,” which sets how bodies conduct business.
Caldwell told the crowed gathered, “Don’t ever let any run down the U.S. It is the greatest country. In America you can be anything. Don’t forget from which you have come. Don’t let success get to you.”
The African-American leader excelled in sports and became a coach. He also has sold insurance, manages rental property and owns a alcoholic beverage store.
Caldwell also served in the U.S. Army and is known to many as a good friend.
County Council Chair Buddy Livingston says that he would have to think long and hard to find something bad to say about Caldwell who he calls Uncle John.
“I have learned from the best and watched you closely,” said Livingston.
Former Councilman Henry Summer recalls Caldwell took him out to McDonalds after his first meeting to start educating Summer.
“I listened to what he has to say,” said Summer.
Mike Hawkins, who served on County Council and is now on the Prosperity Council, said that when Caldwell holds his hand out it is to greet someone or help someone get up and not to put them down.
“I have worked with you many years,” County Councilman Bill Waldrop told Caldwell. “You have worked hard and I am proud to serve with you.”
County Council Vice Chair Kirksey Koon says he met Caldwell when he was a young police officer and helped Caldwell and others repair rental houses.
“I have the utmost respect for you,” said Koon.
Caldwell said he could have never been elected without the help of his friends and wife, Pat Caldwell.
Council honored Caldwell with a framed resolution proclaiming Wednesday as John E. Caldwell Day, a certificate of his 30 years of service and a hardback copy of the Robert’s Rules of Order. He was also give a resolution from the S.C. House of Representatives honoring him.