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Abilene "Top Citizen" dies


On this day in 1968, Abilene civic leader Clifton Mott Caldwell died. Born in Palo Pinto County, Texas, on May 1, 1880, Caldwell spent his early years working on the family farm and earning a teaching certificate. In 1896 he moved with his family to Breckenridge, where he met his future wife, Cora Belle Keathley. They were married in 1901 and soon moved to Caddo, where, after teaching for five years, Caldwell became the principal of the Caddo school. In 1908 he moved his family to Austin and, with a total of $400 in savings, he entered the University of Texas law school. After he graduated in 1911 they returned to Breckenridge, where in 1912 Caldwell was elected county attorney. He was then appointed county judge and later district judge. In 1917 Caldwell and his partner, Breck Walker, formed the highly successful Walker-Caldwell Oil Company. Caldwell acquired large landholdings in West Texas, and invested much of his time and profits in the future of Breckenridge. After moving to Abilene in 1922, his continuing community service included serving as chairman of the Hardin-Simmons University board of trustees, regent of the University of Texas, founding director of the Brazos River Authority, and trustee of the Hendrick Memorial Hospital in Abilene. Caldwell also donated land and operating funds for the hospital. In 1951 Caldwell was presented the "Top Citizen of the Year" award, the highest civic honor awarded by the Abilene Chamber of Commerce.

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