William “Bill” Caldwell was born January 26, 1903, to parents who had emigrated from Northern Ireland. His father worked in the Butte Copper Mines, where young Bill worked in order to earn his way through college. It was a profession that led to his lifelong career as a chemist and mineralogist. Bill attended the Montana School of Mines and earned his bachelor’s degree in metallurgical engineering. He spent a year teaching high school, then went on to the University of Wisconsin, earning a master’s degree in 1928 and a doctorate in 1930. He joined the Oregon State Agricultural College faculty that year as an assistant professor.
Doris Conger was born on Independence Day in 1914, she grew up on her father’s ranch in Medford, Oregon, graduating from Medford High School in 1931. After working for five years, Doris moved to Corvallis to attend Oregon State, where she studied secretarial science. It was her first year on campus, 1936, when she met the young chemistry professor, Bill Caldwell. They were married August 14, 1938, and by the time Doris graduated in 1941, they were expecting their first child. Kathryn was born December 28, 1941; Will was born February 24, 1944; Lynn was born March 31, 1947; and Karen was born September 21, 1950.
During World War II, Bill taught in Maryland for the Army Chemical Warfare Service and was considered an expert on incendiary bombs. After the war, Bill returned to Oregon State, where he received the Carter and Mosser awards for outstanding teaching. He retired from OSU in 1968, then became president of Northwest Industries, a rare metals machining plant in Albany. Bill was a prolific author who published many scientific papers. He co-authored a college chemistry textbook, Fundamentals of College Chemistry, which was adopted for courses in more than 250 colleges and universities. He also wrote two books about his family’s adventures spent traveling during his sabbatical years. Family Safari was published in 1959, and Travel Babble was published in 1972.
Bill served as a consultant on mining and minerals throughout the Northwest and Asia. At one time he was an advisor to the U.S. Geological Survey in Japan and Korea on improving methods of recovering metals from ore. Bill was a member of the Corvallis Elks and Rotary clubs. He enjoyed playing golf and was president of the Corvallis Country Club. He was chapter president of Phi Kappa Phi and for several years was chairman of the university committee on honors and awards. He was also a lifetime member of the American Chemical Society and the Alpha Tau Omega fraternity.
Bill was a fun-loving person and is perhaps best remembered for his sense of humor. He enjoyed his four children immensely. His wife, Doris, established the memorial fund because Bill had always enjoyed his association with the Rotary Club and believed the foundation was a worthwhile organization for the community.
Doris was always active within the community. She worked for the Benton County United Fund, the Good Samaritan Hospital Auxiliary, the Assistance League of Corvallis, the College Folk Club, the Parent Teachers Association, the Corvallis Presbyterian Church, and P.E.O. she was a member of the OSU Foundation board of trustees and the Presidents Club, and was an OSU Mothers Club advocate and an alumna of the Sigma Kappa sorority. Doris served as a vice president of Northwest Industries after Bill’s death. She was at one time state secretary of the Oregon Republican Central Committee.
After 96 and a half years of lovely living, Doris died peacefully in her sleep on the morning of January 9th, 2011, at her Corvallis home.