Norris “Piggie” Caldwell, Jr. was born November 6, 1930 in Tupelo. He passed away peaceably at Sanctuary Hospice House on April 22, 2023 at the age of 92.
He was one of the first new members baptized at Calvary Baptist Church after its founding in 1936; later serving as a Deacon, Deacon body chair, and ultimately awarded with Deacon Emeritus status; many years as a Sunday School teacher for a class that now bears his name; choir member; and as the leader of several fundraising initiatives at Calvary, including the successful post sanctuary fire campaign “From Ashes to Glory”.
Piggie Caldwell is a graduate of Tupelo High School, Class of ‘48, and the University of Mississippi, Class of `52. After being on Big 8 Conference championship teams for Tupelo High School, he was signed to be the next outfielder for the Ole Miss Rebels and Coach Tom Swayze, plus as a football tight end, but his knee was shattered in a football game at Vanderbilt that shortened those athletic dreams. He originally went to Ole Miss to study education because he wanted to be a coach. His father, Norris Sr., convinced him to take courses in business. This must have been fate because that is when he met his wife, Mary Ann Lee of Clarksdale. Piggie was honored with ODK installation at Ole Miss. He was a Sigma Chi, and its chapter President while at Ole Miss, as well.
Piggie learned a lot from his father and when he graduated Ole Miss, he and his brother, the late Jimmie Caldwell, (and former Tupelo mayor), joined their father in running Caldwell’s Appliance store. They sold GE, Whirlpool and RCA appliances, and at one time were the biggest dealers in Mississippi for GE and RCA, with several annual sales awards; and were most diligent in carrying out the store’s slogan, “Where We Service What We Sell”, even at night and on weekends. Norris and Mary Ann later had a very successful antiques business, P.A.M. Antiques and Lamp Shop, where Norris liked to make unique lamps. He taught a basics of business and finance class in the Tupelo public school district for years. He served as the Golden Wave’s football public address announcer for 24 years, and mentored his son Pat to succeed him in that role for another 26 years.
He was Past President of the “Tupelo Touchdown Club”, the precursor to today’s booster club.
He has written and had published 3 books, a fictional baseball tale, Stranger in the Outfield, and two about Tupelo, Before Elvis and War and Home, which won The Mississippi Department of Social Studies Award of Excellence, resulting in books being placed in all public high school libraries in the state.
His grandfather, General Crane, was a big influence in Piggie’s life. In the 6th grade, General Crane came and got him out of class by telling him, (but not the teacher) to “come on boy, the bream are bedding and it’s time to fish,” a hobby Piggie carried on for most of his life. As to the nickname ‘Piggie,” his brother Jimmie was 2 and a half years old when the delivery doctor introduced him to his new baby brother. Jimmie replied, “that is not a baby, that’s a little piggie.” The doctor was a friend of General Crane, and had that reaction put in the Daily Journal and the nickname stuck.
Caldwell was otherwise very active in the community, serving, for example, on North Mississippi Medical Center’s Board of Directors and its Heart Institute Executive Committee; head of the Merchant Committee at CDF, including leading the annual car give away at the Mississippi-Alabama Fair and Dairy Show; longtime volunteer and board member of the Oren Dunn Museum; and on Traceway’s board of directors, leading its ‘The Green House’ start-up concept. Caldwell was also an active member of the Tupelo Kiwanis Club and a past President, and received the club’s highest award, a Hixson Fellowship in 2003. This year started his 70th year of Kiwanis membership.
Caldwell was an avid Ole Miss fan for all major sports, active golfer, fisherman, and enjoyed playing cards with his buddies later in life. The everybody/every year Piggie-led Caldwell Destin then 30A all family summer vacation week holds incredible lifelong family memories, (even “Skit Night”).
Mr. Caldwell is survived by his wife of almost 70 years, Mary Ann Caldwell; and three sons, Lee Caldwell, Pat Caldwell and his wife, Jennifer, and Britt Caldwell and his wife, Angie. His parents, Norris Caldwell, Sr. and Josephine Caldwell predeceased him. Piggie is also survived by several loving grandchildren, Jeff Caldwell and his wife, Anissa, Amy Caldwell Murphree and her husband, Jim, Kevin Caldwell and his wife, Amanda; great grandchildren, John Michael Caldwell, Anders Caldwell, McKenzie Thatcher and her husband, Mac, Emma Murphree, (who served as a special caregiver), Sarah Jordan Watkins, Boone Murphree, Clovie Caldwell and Lonnie Wayne Caldwell; and great-great-grandchildren, Mattie Francis Thatcher and Wilkes Thatcher.
Jeff Caldwell, Jim Murphree, Kevin Caldwell, John Michael Caldwell, Anders Caldwell, and Boone Murphree will serve as pallbearers, along with extended Caldwell family relative, Jimmie Grist, and godson, Frank Riley Jr. Honorary pallbearers will be Rob Leake, Lindsey Leake, Jim Threldkeld, Heywood Washburn, Mac Thatcher, Justin Flaherty, J.T. Grist, Jim Morris, Curtis Buskirk, and Ken Giles.
Visitation for Piggie and his family will be at Pegues Funeral Directors on Jefferson Street in Tupelo, Thursday, April 27, 2023, from 1 p.m. until 3 p.m. with funeral service to follow. Rev. Jim Yates and Dr. John Boler of Calvary will officiate. A private graveside service and burial will be at Glenwood Cemetery in Tupelo. Pegues Funeral Directors is in charge of arrangements.
In lieu of flowers, memorials may be made to the “Come Together” Fellowship Hall Building Fund Campaign at Calvary Baptist Church, P.O. Box 1008, Tupelo, MS 38802, or a charity of your choice.
Expressions of sympathy and fond memories may be shared at PeguesFuneralHome.com.