Martha Frances Scruggs Caldwell passed away at home in Reidsville on Friday, January 14, 2022 after a 4 year battle with Alzheimer’s. She was with her son Mike and loving caregivers Ramona Ioane and Elaine Guest. Martha was born in Thomaston, Georgia on July 1, 1935 to James “Mandy” Scruggs and Lizzy Ray Scruggs. She attended R.E. Lee High School In Thomaston and married E.B. (Jack) Caldwell in January 1959. They relocated to Reidsville in 1962 where Jack was a Parole Officer assigned to Georgia State Prison and they lived in a trailer (with no AC) across the street from Trooper Romie and Emily Jo Waters. Later they relocated to Alto after her husband was promoted to Warden, then a few years later to Jackson, GA before coming back to Reidsville in 1971 as Warden at GSP. Martha and Jack were well known for their staff BBQ’s, community events and hosting state officials at the Wardens Guest House. She ran the Wardens residence and guest house like a hotel, hosting national news reporters (John Chancellor and Dan Rather), prison officials, legislators, Generals and officers from Ft. Stewart, as well as friends and family constantly. In later years she would remember going 12 weekends in a row with overnight houseguests coming and going. During those years she also found time to be active in the Reidsville United Methodist Church and the Ninette Bridge Club. With her best friend, Harriett Rhoden by her side, they coordinated dozens of special events including visits by then Governor Jimmy Carter, Lt. Governor Lester Maddox, Georgia University Chancellor Harmon Caldwell, US Senator Herman Talmadge, and Congressman from the South Georgia area. In 1973 when her husband was promoted to Deputy Commissioner, they moved to Dublin, GA but returned to Reidsville in 1975 when Martha opened a gift and jewelry store named The Treasure Tree. They built a new home on the edge of town and Martha was owner of the store while also serving on the Chamber of Commerce and Business and Professional Women’s League. Finally, after her husband’s retirement, they sold The Treasure Tree and moved to Fayetteville, GA. In retirement Jack and Martha traveled in their motorhome frequently visiting Las Vegas and their son who was in the US Coast Guard. In 1992 after Hurricane Andrew hit Miami, they drove down the next day with supplies and food to help their friends Clyde and Blanche Hinson. With no power or hot water for 90 days, Martha and Jack cooked meals for 35 people 3x per day using generators and gas grills out of the Hinson’s garage. With a military curfew in place at sundown and no TV, Martha became popular with teenagers in the neighborhood by teaching them how to play card games by flashlight. Around 1995 Martha was reacquainted with her first son born in 1955 who had been placed in adoption. He was raised by an influential couple in Washington DC and later lived in Mexico City and Los Angeles. To her amazement, the adopting family had named their baby Michael, which was the same name she gave her second son born 5 years later with Jack. Those experiences would eventually be chronicled in a book call “Our Man in Mexico” by Jefferson Morley which was about the adopted father Winston Scott who was a CIA Agent. There is a chapter dedicated to Martha which talked about how different times were in the 1950’s as well as Michael Scott’s first meeting with Martha’s other son Mike. Years later Martha would joke, “who would have ever guessed Reidsville and her family would end up in a book about the CIA and the JFK Assassination!!” Another big surprise was that she had 2 grandsons who she cherished as the years passed. She was predeceased by her husband, Jack Caldwell in 2018 and stepson Johnnie Caldwell in 1999; also her parents, brother Bobby Scruggs, and sisters Lavern Nix and Josie Simmons, all of Thomaston, GA.
She is survived by her sons Michael S. Caldwell of Reidsville, Michael M. Scott of Los Angeles (wife Barbara), and two grandsons, Zachary and Kyle Scott both of Los Angeles, CA; her brother, Benny Scruggs and several nieces and nephews in Thomaston, GA.
There will be a memorial service at her son's home in Reidsville at 11:00am on Friday, January 21, 2022, officiating will be Chaplain Fred Anderson from Hospice of South Georgia. Her cremains will be buried at a future date next to her husband in Thomaston.
Flowers are appreciated as well as donations in her memory to Hospice of South Georgia in Jesup, GA.
Low Country Cremation and Burial is serving the Caldwell family