Robert J. “Bob” Caldwell ‘71, editorial page editor of The Oregonian and former chair of the School of Journalism and Communication’s Journalism Advancement Council, died Saturday, March 10 of a heart attack. He was 63.
Caldwell, a native Oregonian, transferred to the UO from Eastern Oregon University and earned a BS in journalism two years later. During his college years, he supported himself by working at newspapers, which he had done since graduating from high school in LaGrande, Oregon.
Caldwell spent all but six months of his career in Oregon, working as a reporter, editorial writer, columnist, editor and publisher at several Northwest newspapers. He joined the staff of The Oregonian in 1983. He was the paper’s metro editor for eight years and ombudsman for two years before being named editorial page editor in 1995. Before joining The Oregonian, he worked at papers in La Grande, Eugene, Albany, Springfield and Gresham. In 1993, Caldwell served as editor-in-residence for two new daily newspapers in Romania, Cotidianul, in Bucharest, and Monitorul de Iasi, in Iasi; he also worked as a consultant for other newspapers in Eastern Europe.
“It’s hard for me to imagine Oregon journalism without Bob Caldwell,” Tim Gleason, Edwin L. Artzt dean of the School of Journalism and Communication, said. “Not only did he make his mark on journalism in the northwest at major Oregon and Washington newspapers and internationally, but as chair of the school’s Journalism Advancement Council he had an impact on future generations of journalists. Bob was a strong advocate for students, and he will be missed.”
“Bob Caldwell was one of the finest and best newspapermen of his generation,” said Jeff Wohler ‘70, retired editor (sports and online) of The Oregonian. “He was extremely insightful and extraordinarily fair. This is truly a sad day for Oregon journalism.”
Caldwell was past president of the Oregon Newspaper Publishers Association and served on the board of the Oregon Newspaper Foundation and as past president of the Western Oregon chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists. He was a member of the Oregon Press-Bar-Bench-Broadcasters Committee, the National Conference of Editorial Writers and the American Society of Newspaper Editors.
In 2009, he won the Oregon Newspaper Publishers Association’s Amos Voorhies Award, which honors “outstanding journalistic achievement in the public interest, service in the interest of the welfare and honor of the journalistic profession, or long, useful, and honorable careers in the field of journalism.”
At that time, he was asked about his nearly 30 years at the Oregonian. He replied: “Time flies when you’re having fun.”
Caldwell is survived by his wife, Lora Cuykendall, and three daughters: Beth, Kate and Ellie Caldwell. A memorial service will be held Saturday, March 17, at 1:00 p.m. at the Portland Art Museum. A wake will follow at that location from 2:30 to 6:00 p.m.