Jack Caldwell, local businessman, state DNR secretary succumbs at 86

A Memorial Service will be held at noon Saturday at David Funeral Home Chapel for Jack Caruthers Caldwell, 86, who died Tuesday at his daughter’s residence in New Iberia.

A gathering of family and friends will be held at the funeral home from 10 a.m. until service time Saturday. Pastor Pat Wadsworth of the First Presbyterian Church in New Iberia will conduct services followed by military rites conducted by the U.S. Army Honor Guard.

In lieu of flowers donations may be made to AAA Home Health and Hospice.

Born in Monroe, Mr. Caldwell grew up in New Orleans. He graduated from Sewanee Military Academy in Tennessee at age 16 and began his studies at LSU. At 17, he joined the Army Air Corps for World War II.

At the end of the war, he returned to LSU and completed law school. Soon after, he re-enlisted for the Korean war, and served in Korea as a JAG officer.

After the Korean war, Caldwell moved to Franklin, to join the Brumby, Aycock, Horne and Caldwell Law Firm. He later opened a Lafayette branch of the Milling, Benson firm of New Orleans.

At age 70, he was appointed by Gov. Mike Foster to be the secretary of the Department of Natural Resources. During his tenure, he established the Atchafalaya Basin Program and served on the Minerals Management Service in the United States Department of Interior: the project promoted the Conservation and Reinvestment Act, leading to substantial coastal restoration funding.

After serving as secretary, Caldwell taught coastal restoration law as adjunct professor at the LSU Law Center. He continued to practice law and work on coastal restoration projects until the time of his death.

Mr. Caldwell was a long-serving member of the Louisiana Law Institute, attending meetings as recently as May 2012. He served as president of the Institute in 1986-1987, and 1988-1989. In addition, he served on the Board of Governors for the Louisiana Bar Association, the State Examining Board, and was a member of the American Trial Lawyers for 60 years. He received the award of Outstanding Attorney from the Louisiana Bar Foundation for 1994-1995.

Survivors include his children, Tracy C. Gavilanes and husband, Carlos, of Quito Ecuador; Katherine C. Bacala and husband, Kevin, of New Iberia; Lauren C. Bragg and husband, Wayne, of Raleigh, North Carolina; Cary C. Anthony and husband, Dearis P., of Lafayette; and Robert Jolly Caldwell of Redmond, Washington; grandchildren, Kelly Davis Fleenor and husband, Wayne, of Louisville, Kentucky; Jackson Caldwell Davis Sr. and wife, Ashli, of Shreveport; Carolina P. Gavilanes and Carlos “Andy” Gavilanes, both of Quito Ecuador; Elizabeth Anthony of Lafayette and Katelyn Caldwell of Redmond, Washington; great grandchildren, Lauren E. Davis and Jackson Caldwell Davis Jr., both of Shreveport; Ally and Harry Fleenor, both of Louisville, Kentucky; and Jurmale Jenkins of Lafayette; two brothers, E.A. “Alex” Caldwell Jr. of Maurice and Richard Caldwell and wife, Tika, of Brevard, North Carolina; and a brother- in-law, Robert Jolly and wife, Judy, of Baton Rouge.

He was preceded in death by his first wife, Mary Ann Jolly Caldwell; second wife, Joan Ribbeck Caldwell; parents, E.A. “Jack” Caldwell Sr. and Helen Patti Caruthers Caldwell; a grandson, Addison Caldwell; and a brother-in-law, Edward Jolly.

The family would especially like to thank AAA Home Health and Hospice, Dr. Gulotta, Dr. Ditch, Dr. Jason Landry and Alfred “Smitty” Landry.

Condolences may be expressed online at www.davidfuneralhome.com.

David Funeral Home, 1101 Trotter St., New Iberia, La. (337) 369-6336 is in charge of arrangements.

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