Name: Janie Frances (Seay) Caldwell
Image Number: 1957 Scotty YearbookComments: Janie Frances Seay was born on September 21, 1915, in Fluvanna Co., Virginia; her parents were Everette Meade Seay (1891-1974) and Martha Virginia (Ranson) Seay (1888-1970). Janie began her grade school education at the old Scottsville School, a two-room school which was located where the Scottsville Library is now located. Janie graduated from Scottsville High School in 1933, and began attending the State Teachers College at Harrisonburg, VA, where she obtained a Bachelor of Science degree in teaching.
In 1935, Janie began teaching in a community near Scottsville, but she eventually came back to Scottsville to teach first grade in the same Scottsville School classroom where she sat as a child. Janie was a much-loved teacher at Scottsville School rating praise from her former students and their parents as "poised, sure of her work, gets the toddler off on the right track, carries a heavy load, enjoys teaching little children, a very kind and talented teacher, a lovely smile…." After 36 years of teaching first grade classes and 1 year of a second grade class (1951, see below photo), Janie retired from teaching in 1972.
On June 28, 1946, Janie married Ray Wilson Caldwell (1912-1999), a farmer on the outskirts of Scottsville. While Janie continued her successful teaching career in Scottsville, Ray farmed and also maintained a beautiful garden whose abundant produce he shared with Scottsville families. Janie and Ray also helped support the restoration of Victory Hall Theatre where they often attended movies and shows together. And when Janie passed away in 2011, the Janie and Ray Caldwell estate contributed $272,000 to the Town of Scottsville, which used a portion of this Caldwell donation on the Streetscape project to complete the brick corner treatment at Valley and Main streets. Additionally, the estate of Mrs. Janie Caldwell contributed over $100,000 to the Capital Campaign for The Center at Belvedere, a new home for healthy aging In the Charlottesville area which is scheduled to open in Spring of 2020.
To learn more about the teaching career of Janie Caldwell and her many contributions to Scottsville, please read "The Teacher's Reward" by Patricia Annie Wyker (Scottsville Monthly, ca. 2000, p. 16, Valley Publishing Company, Palmyra, VA):
The Teacher's Reward
by Patricia Annie Wyker
Most local merchants are familiar with the sight of this pleasant-faced lady as she walks down Main Street (assisted by her cane) to keep a weekly appoinment at the beauty parlor over Bruce's Drugstore, though many are probably not aware of the important role Janie Caldwell played in numerous Scottsville lives.
For thirty-seven years, Janie was a first-grade teacher and most of those years were spent teaching in the old Scottsville School. A number of the town's well-known citizens were Janie's students: Lindsay Dorrier, Town Attorney; Scott Ward of A. Scott Ward Realty, and Mary Curtis Ott, the organist for Scottsville Methodist Church, to name a few. The list goes on.
According to Janie, the accomplishments of her students are her reward for years of service as a dedicated teacher.
Her own education began in a two-room schoolhouse that was located where the Scottsville Library now sits. Sadly, that building was struck by lightning and burned to the ground. After completing her grade school years and high school in the old Scottsville School. Janie graduated in 1933. She later entered Harrisonburg State Teachers College and obtained a BS degree. One of her college roommates, she recounts was one Martha Kent - who later married a young man by the name of Tom Bruce (of Bruce's Drugstore family).
Though her teaching career began in a community nearby, Janie eventually came back to teach first grade, in the same Scottsville classroom where she met as a child.
Pot-bellied stoves heated rooms in the school at that time, and Janie and another young teacher were required to keep the fires going by refueling them with coal. Though they worked hard to keep the schoolrooms attractive, Jamie remembers that it wasn't easy. The children loved to play in the coal bin out back and would come in after recess covered in coal dust, leaving a sooty trail of handprints and footprints behind them.
A special library corner was set aside in the school for reading, and, Janie, realizing how important it would be to their future to have good reading skills, encouraged the children to take advantage of it. Being a first grade teacher often meant being a substitute mother to children who were not happy about being away from home. One of her tiny students cried every day for weeks, and Janie says she had no choice but to hold the child on her lap to keep her from crying and disrupting the class. Whenever Janie sees this former student, now a grown woman, they share a good laugh over the memory.
Janie retired in 1972 from her teaching position but holds many fond memories of watching her students grow, mature, and become leaders in the community.
A special part of her life was her marriage to "gentleman farmer," Ray Caldwell. They were married in 1946 and shared fifty-three wonderful years together before Ray passed away in 1999.
Ray and his family moved to Scottsville from Danville, Virginia, when he was a child. They purchased a farm on the outskirts of town that adjoined a farm owned by Dr. Cary Moon's father. Ray was fond of saying to Janie, "Just think if I had not come to Scottsville, I would not have met you."
An avid gardener, Mr. Caldwell loved sharing his abundant produce with folks in the community. He maintained a beautiful weed-free petunia bed beside the house that always seemed to nod a pleasant "hello" when you passed. A friendly man with a twinkle in his eye and a ready smile, Ray contributed generously to the town of Scottsville.
The couple traveled extensively during their fifty-three years of marriage, visiting Germany, Switzerland, and Austria. They also took numerous cruises to such beautiful and pristine places as the Alaska coastline. Occasionally they would leave behind the cold Virginia winter and head south to winter in the Florida sun.
Though there is no doubt that the loss of her husband has given Janie some lonely times, she is blessed with a wealth of friends and family who visit often. Today Janie keeps active in the community attending get-togethers every Wednesday at the Scottsville Senior Center, where she often participates in various activities and shows. She enjoys reading, music, and day-trips with friends and family.
A long-time member of the Scottsville Methodist Church, Janie has been lifting her voice in song with the choir there for many years. Though recently a bad fall forced her into temporary retirement, Janie is looking forward to getting back in the "sing" of it.
It has given Janie great pleasure to help support the restoration of the Victory Hall Theatre, where she and Mr. Caldwell often attended movies and shows together and at times participated in some of the Chautauqua shows themselves. (The Chautauqua Production Company was based out of New York and produced live plays in the Victory Hall Theatre at one time, using local residents in their productions.)
This is one teacher, who not only taught her students to prepare for the future, but learned the lesson herself as well. Regardless of several injurious falls in the last few years, Janie remains undaunted and still cleans her own house and cooks. Homecoming at Scottsville United Methodist Church would not be the same without one of her delicious pecan pies.
A testimony to clean living and taking care of yourself, Janie has a great outlook on life and is happy to share her recipe for good day-to-day living: "Smile and laugh a lot, always look at the sunny side of life."
It's a lesson that seems to have worked quite well for her.
Following is the 2011 obituary of Janie Frances (Seay) Caldwell, Courtesy of Thacker Brothers Funeral Home, Scottsville, VA:
Janie Frances (Seay) Caldwell, passed away on 28 July 2011 at the Hospice House in Charlottesville, VA.
She was born on September 21, 1915, in Bremo Bluff, a daughter of the late Meade and Virginia (Ranson) Seay.
In addition to her parents, she was preceded in death by her husband of 53 years, Ray Wilson Caldwell; and two brothers, Meade Seay, Jr., and Riney Reardon.
Mrs. Caldwell was an active member of the Scottsville United Methodist Church and the Scottsville Senior Center, and was a respected teacher with the Albemarle County Public Schools for over 37 years. She was a warm, kind and welcoming person, and her greatest delights were her church, singing, and children.
Survivors include two sisters, Katherine Dansey of Scottsville and Arline Massey of Hampton; a sister-in-law, Margie Reardon of Bremo Bluff; and a number of nieces, nephews, great-nieces and great-nephews.
A funeral service will be conducted at 2 p.m. Sunday, July 31, 2011, at Thacker Brothers Funeral Home in Scottsville by the Reverend Bruce Lugn. Burial will follow at Scottsville Cemetery.
Copyright © 2020 by Scottsville Museum
WWII Esmont Search Policy
Scottsville Museum · 290 Main Street · Scottsville, Virginia 24590 · 434-286-2247
www.avenue.org/smuseum · [email protected]
Copyright © 2020 by Scottsville Museum