CMSgt Gerald “Jerry” Ray Caldwell, U.S. Air Force, Retired, age 91, of Biloxi, MS, passed away peacefully on Monday, July 18, 2022 at the Veterans Administration hospital in Biloxi.
Gerald was a native of Covington, KY and a longtime resident of Biloxi, MS. He proudly served our country with 30 years of meritorious service in the United States Air Force where his military training provided him with an extensive background in electronics, along with personnel leadership skills and management. He received the Bronze Star medal, meritorious service medal, AF commendation medal, AF outstanding unit award, AF good Conduct medal, Army Good conduct medal, National Defense Service Medal, Korean Service Medal, Vietnam Service Medal, AF Longevity Service Medal, Professional Military Education Ribbon, Small Arms Expert Marksmanship Ribbon, United Nations Service Medal, and the Republic of Vietnam Campaign Medal.
Upon his retirement from the Air Force, Jerry served the members of Keesler Federal Credit Union, now Mississippi’s largest credit union, on the Board of Directors for 35 consecutive years: 29 years of those years as Vice President/Vice Chairman of the Board. While extremely well qualified to be Chairman, Jerry dedicated himself to serving membership by focusing on the growth of the credit union, literally from the ground up. From the beginning of his relationship with his credit union in the 1980’s, Jerry devoted a very large amount of time and effort leading the acquisition and construction of credit union branches and support facilities to assure the membership’s return on investment for every membership dollar spent. Jerry dedicated his full attention to volunteerism and spent a total of 2 ½ years alone overseeing the building of the multi-storied Main International Headquarters and Branch Facility on Pass Road in Biloxi. In support of the military members overseas in the United Kingdom, Jerry coordinated with numerous Military Commander’s at locations across the United Kingdom to obtain space and buildings on the overseas bases to provide products and services to military members.
Jerry’s integrity, dedication, and many years of just plain hard work and attention to detail benefitted the membership and community. The results of his work are obvious. His strategic leadership and foresight were instrumental in the major growth in membership from 25,000 when elected to the board in the 1980s to 230,000 faithful members today. During his tenure on the Board of Directors the credit union’s assets grew from $84M to greater than $2.5 Billion. Jerry’s 35 years as an unselfish volunteer and his unwavering support of the credit union movement and “Members-first” philosophy made him uniquely deserving of being inducted into Mississippi Credit Union Hall of Fame in 2019.
1981-1984: Board Member, 1985-2003: Vice Chairman, 2004-2009: Board Member, 2010-2015: Vice Chairman, 2015: retired from KFCU Board of Directors.
Gerald was preceded in death by his father, Claude Caldwell; his mother, Grace Elliott Caldwell; his brother, Ralph Caldwell; and his son, Richard Caldwell. He is survived by his wife of 70 years, Jean Caldwell; his daughter, Beverly Hayden; his daughter in law, Rita Pattison; his step brother, Rudy Bailey (Linda); his grandchildren, Brian Hayden, Brittany Hayden, and Brayden Caldwell; and his step grandchildren Cecily, Nick, Zachery, and Sydney.
May he now finally rest in peace.
In lieu of flowers the family request that donations be made to the American Heart Association https://www.heart.org
The pall bearers for the service will be Stephen Papania, Adam Levenway, Brayden Caldwell, Bo Pattison, Robert Peer, and David Daugherty.
Friends are invited to join the family for visitation from 6:00 to 7:30 p.m., Thursday, July 21, 2022, at Riemann Family Funeral Home, 274 Beauvoir Road, Biloxi, MS. The funeral service will be held at 9:30 a.m., Friday, July 22, 2022, in the funeral home chapel. Mr. Caldwell will be laid to rest at Biloxi National Cemetery at 11:00 a.m.