From coach builder to motorcoach operator, Nathaniel “Nate” Caldwell loved coaches. The owner and founder of Caldwell Bus Line in Warner Robins, Georgia, is being remembered for his contributions to the motorcoach and bus industry.
He passed away at his home on Oct. 11, 2023, at age 77.
He was a member of the United Motorcoach Association and the National Association of Motorcoach Operators (NAMO).
“Nate grew up as a little boy fascinated with seeing buses ride past his home in rural Georgia in the early ‘50s,” shared Frank Farrow, Vice Chairman of NAMO. “At age 16 he began driving the school bus for fellow students to and from school, which was very common at that time in the South.”
After returning from the U.S. Army in 1968, Caldwell started working on building motorhomes at Blue Bird Body Co. During his 30-plus years there, he also began driving buses for Eastern Tours, located in Warner Robins.
“Nate’s love of driving and the bus industry in general afforded him the opportunity to drive charter groups throughout the United States,” Farrow said. “Nate and Mamie were members of UMA and NAMO, where Mamie continues to be a board member.”
In his obituary, the family noted Caldwell’s close relationships to members of those organizations.
Decorated Army veteran
Caldwell was born Nov. 24, 1945, in Marshallville, Georgia, in Macon County. He was drafted into the Army after graduating from Lamson Richardson High School. He served in the Vietnam War from 1966 and was honorably discharged in 1968. His Army decorations include the National Defense Service Medal, Vietnam Service Medal with Bronze Star, Vietnam Campaign Medal with Device, Letter of Appreciation, and Letter of Commendation, Sharpshooter Badge (Rifle).
For 38 years, Caldwell was employed by Blue Bird Body, which built the well-known motorhome Wanderlodge, which he nicknamed “Wonderful Lodge.” Caldwell worked in the fabrication department and in administration as a supervisor.
“But as he put it, his love was working with his co-workers in the painting department,” his family wrote in his obituary. “When time allowed, while watching various workers do their jobs, he learned how to weld as well as many other useful skills. He gained much experience with Wanderlodge which led his heart beyond just building motorcoaches.”
Caldwell married Mamie Sadler Jackson in 1997, and the couple had five sons. Shortly after their marriage, Caldwell discussed with Mamie his dream about starting his own bus company. After praying on it, they opened Caldwell Bus Line in 2003.
“God blessed them to meet and touch many lives throughout this venture as well as them being blessed and touched by many,” according to the obituary.
Caldwell is survived by his wife, Mamie Jackson Caldwell, and five sons: Kyle Evans, of Tampa, Florida; Harold Jackson Jr. (Niki) of Panama City, Florida; Shannon McKenzie (Katira), of Des Moines, Washington; Charlie Thomas Jackson, of Atlanta; and Daniel Clements Jackson, of Mayport, Florida. Also, five grandchildren, a sister and three brothers, a sister-in-law, and a host of nephews and nieces.