Obituary of Lindsay Caldwell
Lindsay E. “Gene” Caldwell, 86, bravely set sail for a new shore on Monday, April 23, 2018, from Olympia, Washington. Surrounded by family, his wife of 32 years, Darlene Caldwell, gently held his hand to bid him farewell.
BEGINNINGS. Gene was born May 13, 1931, in Portland, Oregon, to Lindsay F. and Mildred (Miller) Caldwell. He had a sister, Nadine, and a brother Vern Caldwell. Gene was an avid dog lover and, as a young man, he worked for some folks who owned a dog kennel. Shortly after his 1950 graduation from Jefferson High School, Gene joined the United States Coast Guard. His father had owned a photography business, motivating Gene to follow in his dad’s footsteps while he served as a public information officer (photographer).
His first marriage to Marjorie blessed him with two daughters, Linda (Tillman) and Melissa (Caldwell-Huzek). After his honorable discharge in 1953, Gene worked for Safeway. He took a transfer and moved his young family to the Seattle area. Gene and his business partner, Bob Ryan, opened Gene and Bob’s Handy Marts, in Mukilteo. And Gene and his new wife, Arlovene, raised his two daughters in Richmond Beach.
Whether it was attending a Sonic’s game, trout fishing on the Sauk River, playing three-thirteen, posing for pictures with Santa, or meeting his newest great-granddaughter, Gene enjoyed family. He relished the thought of playing board games, camping, clam digging, and winning at cribbage. His delightful meals enticed the kids to sit around the table at family parties because he always cooked with gusto. He spent many hours watching televised sports with others and was a tried and true Seattle Seahawks fan.
It was a camping trip to Moclips that motivated Gene to leave the hustle and bustle of the city. He found solace at the beach; in 1984, he relocated to the Grayland-Westport area. First, he worked for Century 21, and quickly became an active member of the Kiwanis Club and the Chamber of Commerce. He was always willing to help, and enjoyed participating in events at the Westport Maritime Museum. He even contributed to a house for the local high school students to remodel.
His short stint as a realtor afforded Gene the chance of a lifetime: to own and operate a restaurant. This is where he met and fell in love with a fellow restaurateur, Darlene Martin (former owner of Grandma’s Kitchen), adding her and her children to the family. Gene and Darlene were married on May 18, 1986 at the “Dart” house in Grayland, Washington. They honeymooned at Rosario’s Resort on Orcas Island.
NORTHWEST CUISINE. In 1985, Gene purchased a favorite Northwest restaurant, Sourdough Lil’s. It was here that the tall, friendly chef—and maker of the best cheesecake, clam chowder, and seafood fettuccine you’ve ever tasted—made his mark on the Northwest food scene. Darlene and Gene created a friendly atmosphere with a menu to satisfy.
HOLIDAY SPIRIT. Becoming Santa was Gene’s favorite pastime. Santa first came to Sourdough Lil’s and offered a generation of kids the opportunity to share their Christmas wishes and pose for pictures. With his naturally white hair and beard, he loved it when a child sitting on his lap would pull his beard, look at him with wide eyes, and exclaim, “YOU’RE REAL!”
Gene was loved by many: his wife, Darlene Caldwell; two daughters, Linda (Deacon) Tillman, Melissa (Mark) Caldwell-Huzek; a sister, Nadine Watson (deceased); a brother, Vern (Doreen) Caldwell; his favorite niece, Dianne, (Frank) Gruelle; nephew, Ronnie Watson; stepchildren, Victor M. Avila (deceased), Mike (Isabel) Avila and family, John (Kim) Avila and family, Chris (Neang) Avila and family, Lisa (Pat) Shell and family; his grandchildren, Christina Rodriquez (deceased), Robert Rodriguez and family, Tyler Novak and family, Brianna Caldwell, S.S.G., Mike Kannitzer and family, and Charles Shell.
Gene’s kind, accepting, and protective manner influenced all of his extended family, friends, and co-workers who called him “Dad,” “Geno,” “Pops,” “Grandpa Gene,” and “Santa Claus.”
A gathering to celebrate Gene’s life will be held in the fall 2018. Meanwhile, you can cook your favorite meal and gather loved ones around your table.
Memorial donations in Gene's honor may be made to the Westport Maritime Museum or the Union Gospel Mission.