Vail Daily obituary: Paul Caldwell, 1931-2016 |

Vail Daily obituary: Paul Caldwell, 1931-2016

Paul Caldwell never let adversity slow him down in spite of a horrific three-way car accident at Vail’s main Interstate 70 exit when his left leg was nearly severed.

So determined was he that following several surgeries, he was given a key at the hospital which he used to open the physical therapy department at 3 a.m. to hasten his recovery.

Eventually, he was able to ride a bike and he rode it every day up to the top of Vail Pass from his duplex home in East Vail.

“He was mad for skiing,” said his widow Sue Mason. She met Paul in Denver at a heart association benefit 28 years ago. “He was determined to ski again. Nothing held him back or slowed him down and he never gave up.”

Paul was born in Toronto on November 22, 1931, to parents, Millicent and Walter Caldwell, who raised him with an appreciation of jazz and a fun, positive attitude.

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From a young age on he loved jazz. So much so that any time jazz musicians came through Toronto, Paul made sure he found ways to attend their performances. Sometimes he even gained backstage access at noted venues such as Massey Hall where legends such as Charlie Parker and Dizzy Gillespie recorded “Jazz at Massey Hall” in 1953. Often Paul would bring musicians to his parents’ home after a concert. He knew all the players and became friends with them. During breaks, Paul was thrilled when Miles Davis took him for rides in the white Ferrari that Davis owned.

“Paul had a great memory and he could regale you with all sorts of details,” said Howard Stone, founder of the Vail Jazz Foundation. “We were close, and I thought of him as a brother. We shared this love of jazz and went to jazz shows together. He was a lovely, lovely guy.”

Paul attended college in Ottawa, Canada, and worked as a butcher to fund his great passion of skiing. A man of many trades, Paul was a terrific salesman with a spontaneous smile, selling everything from perfume to pharmaceuticals. After retirement, he worked on Vail Mountain in guest services and at the children’s ski school.

For 13 years, he worked at Vail Boot & Shoe and sat outside during the Vail Farmer’s Market on Sundays wooing customers. “He had so much knowledge of sales and taught us so much,” said Judy Steiner, owner. “He was part of our family and he is missed. It’s such a great loss.”

Paul died in Denver on May 5, 2016, and is survived by his nephew Edward Roth (wife Julie) and niece Christine Conlin (husband Sean), of Ottawa. He was preceded in death by his only child, daughter Kim Caldwell, and his parents.

A celebration of Paul’s life will be held at Blu’s in East Vail on July 31. In lieu of flowers, donations may be made in his memory to the Vail Jazz Foundation, Box 3035, Vail 81658.

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