Horace G. Caldwell (1901-1984) received the Pugsley Medal in 1973 “for his work in developing Georgia's State Parks to where they are among the top state parks systems in the nation." He was born in Monroe, Georgia and graduated from Riverside Military Academy in 1921. He subsequently attended Georgia Tech.
After graduation, Caldwell entered the hotel field, working at the Piedmont Hotel in Atlanta. When the Daniel Ashley Hotel in Valdosta was completed in 1927, Caldwell was recruited to be its manager. He remained in this position for 20 years until 1947, with the exception of an interruption in World War II when he was stationed as a captain at Moody Air Force Field at Valdosta in 1942. Subsequently, he was transferred to Air Transport Command in 1943 as compliance officer with the 3rd Division Air Transport in North Africa before returning to Moody again as a personnel officer. He retired from the military with the rank of lieutenant colonel in 1945.
While manager of the Daniel Ashley Hotel, Caldwell was a leading member of the Valdosta Chamber of Commerce, and he actively engaged in promoting the community. A peer observed, "He was supportive of anything civic and would do any job wholeheartedly." A part of this mission in the 1930s, he became involved with the Georgia Hotel Association, and ultimately he became president of that organization. In 1947, he became the proprietor of a popular resort called Radium Springs near Albany, Georgia, and he remained in the hotel business until 1963.
Caldwell was appointed director of Georgia State Parks from 1963-1967. From this position, he never tired of plugging the attractions of Georgia's parks and was often influential in getting legislators to increase the budget for the parks system. He moved to become executive director of the Jekyll Island Authority from 1967 until his retirement in 1972. The Caldwell Exhibit Hall at Jekyll Island was named in his honor. After retiring from his Jekyll Island position, Caldwell became something of an unofficial one-man welcoming committee for the island.
Caldwell's contemporaries' observations about him included: "The kindest and most generous man I have ever known ";"Whatever he did was not for himself, but for someone else"; and "He was widely known for his humanitarianism efforts in helping other people." A former governor of Georgia said:
The people of Georgia owe Horace Caldwell a vote of thanks for the tremendous job he did in bringing the state's parks and Jekyll Island into the 20th century. He was one of the great park directors in the history of our state. He had a lot of vision, and he knew how to make it become a reality.
Pendleton,Albert S.http:/twww.valdostamusewn.org/Albert's"A>20pages/horace_caldwell_ was_definitely_d.hun