Keeneland Auctioneer Tom Caldwell Dead

Auctioneer Tom Caldwell, who joined the Keeneland sale staff in the late 1950s, died Feb. 23 of pancreatic cancer at his home near Eagle Point, Ore. He was 72.

Caldwell was born near Delaware, Ohio, and was raised in the Buckeye State and in Southern California. He served as a Merchant Marine during World War II and with the Army Engineers in Alaska following the conflict.

"For over 40 years at Keeneland, Tom Caldwell was the personification of the professional auctioneer," said Keeneland board chairman Ted Bassett. "He established a superb standard of excellence based on knowledge of pedigrees, conformation and market value which contributed and enhanced Keeneland's international reputation as the premier Thoroughbred sales company."

Caldwell was the third generation of auctioneers in his family. His father and grandfather auctioned registered livestock in California. His two sons, Scott and Cris, have followed him in the business as well as three of his grandsons.

"During my short tenure I have gotten to know Tom as a consummate professional and a loving father," said Keeneland president Nick Nicholson. "Nothing gave him greater joy than to watch his sons, grandsons, and protégés succeed under his tutelage. Our sympathies go out to Mary and the entire Caldwell family."

Caldwell was selling cows, pigs and goats at the family's stockyards in Southern California when Swinebroad approached him about joining his team.

He worked as a bid spotter for the 1957 dispersal of Louis B. Mayer's Thoroughbreds, handled by Swinebroad and Humphrey Finney. At the July sale that year, he sat in the auctioneer's stand for the opening session because Swinebroad had suffered a heat attack.

When Swinebroad died in 1975, Keeneland named Caldwell its director of auctions.

Tom Caldwell raised Thoroughbreds and cattle and campaigned a couple of stakes winners. He earned a 1985 Thoroughbred Owners and Breeders Association award as Oregon's most successful owner and breeder.

In addition to his sons, Caldwell's survivors include his wife, Mary, and daughters Georganna and Karen.