Pauline Arrasmith Caldwell

Honored by:Reva Charlene Caldwell, Constance Caldwell Abelson and Stan Caldwell
Brick location:PAVER:33  map

We welcome the opportunity to honor Pauline Arrasmith Caldwell, our mother, by inclusion in the Plaza of Heroines at Iowa State University. It is fitting that she be remembered here. As a descendant of the early Arrasmith pioneer settlers of Story County Iowa, she spent most of her life as an active member of the Ames community.

She is remembered by many as a friend, a wife, a mother, and a teacher. Our wish to honor her is because she was a wonderful mother. Perhaps when we were young we took it for granted that this was a typical mother, simply what a mother is. But from the perspective of being an adult, our mother seems a rarity. In her memory, her three children try to capture her specialness in the following paragraphs. There is a solid core somewhere in the depth of our being that can never be taken away no matter what we go through, we think because of our mother. We are somehow always on solid ground because of her influence.

She was like the Rock of Gibraltar but was really too warm to be a rock. When it comes to descriptions, nurturance is our mother's middle name. The oldest of six children, Pauline became a surrogate mother by default when her own mother was an invalid for many years. She died when Pauline was fifteen. Pauline (our mother) raised her brothers and sisters. Despite the hardship of poverty and heavy home responsibilities, she graduated from high school at the top of her class. She eventually put herself through business school while working as a live-in nanny. Years later she married (to Charles O. Caldwell for forty-six years) and raised three children of her own.

Because of her hardships early in life, she learned the "flow" or "roll" of life. She never gave up but would keep trying and learning. She could handle anything and did so in a very quiet, humble way. Our mother lived a very creative and caring life in all the circumstances in which she found herself. She was a tough but gentle woman who seemed to do everything with a natural ease.

Our mother was dedicated to education. Her dream was to go to college and become a teacher. She did not attain that specific goal, but she did the next best thing. She taught Sunday School for many years. She was a Campfire Girl leader and a Girl Scout leader. After raising her own children (and influencing countless others in the process), she went back to work full-time as registrar and secretary at Ames High School. Serving in this capacity, she was able to interact and get to know--and teach--and touch--all the kids in the high school. Her dedication extended to Iowa State University where she served on the YWCA Board.

She was extremely proud that her own three children earned bachelor degrees and graduate degrees. She was an excellent role model. Most of all, we learned from her how to be friends, parents, and community members. As friends we hope we are accepting and nonjudgmental. As parents we aspire to be nurturers, instilling self-confidence and self-worth. As community members we think we are active, considerate, and honest. We have discovered as adults that these are not natural human characteristics but acquired traits. We feel fortunate that our mother gave us so much that was positive along with her love.

Throughout her life Pauline Arrasmith Caldwell influenced people--especially impressionable kids. She truly knew the meaning of: "It's the little things that count." Those little things added up to a wonderful lady--mother to us--and a special friend to all who came in contact with her.

Paver Inscription:

"Pauline Arrasmith Caldwell
Fifth Generation Iowa Pioneer
Ames, Story County, Iowa
A Friend to All"