He was blessed with more advantages than most of the 10 siblings in his family, and all because a man of means took a liking to this young child.
Calvin McCaskill of Charlotte died Feb. 24, 2011, at home. He was 86, a retired plasterer for C.W. Kirkland Co. and a former postal worker.
When Calvin was about nine years old, the family of James Falander took him in to live with them and to be a companion to their son, James Jr. He was given opportunities the Falander family afforded their own child — they sent him to the Juilliard School of Dance in New York for a year.
Mama was pretty
No doubt these talents helped win the hand of Sarah Byers, his sweetheart at West Charlotte High School. They eloped to a justice of the peace in 1945.
“Everybody teased him about how he got Mama,” daughter Dalphene Camp said. “Mama was pretty, with light grey eyes and light brown skin.”
Calvin danced only “for his personal use,” said daughter Adrenne Orr.
“He and Mom would go to social dances and he danced for fun,” she said. I remember when I was at the debutante ball, he waltzed me all over the floor.”
Calvin was a plasterer by trade. In his travels with the Kirkland plasterers, “He traveled to Philadelphia, New York, Washington, Detroit or New Jersey and came home on the weekends,” Dalphene Camp said.
He was a talented plasterer, but you’d never know it by his dress. “He was very well dressed and kept his nails manicured,” Dalphene said. “He was a fastidious person.”
Connie Patton, a friend of 75 years, said: “After we went in the service, he took up plastering on the G.I. Bill. When he quit plastering, he was a custodian with the main post office on Interstate 85.”
Calvin built a nice home and loved to invite any guests who were traveling.
“He would say, ‘Come stay with us,’ and he would feed them. He treated them like kings, and after his wife died, the girls would cook for them. It was a giving, caring family,” Connie said.
Caring friend, loving father
Connie described his friend as “an easygoing, friendly, kind gentleman with a good heart.” He recalled his friend stopping by the visit older people and leaving them a jug of juice or flowers.
At Christmas, his daughters said, everybody he knew got a poinsettia. “He’d take 25 or 30 of them to the sick and shut-ins.”
Calvin went to everybody’s funeral, and he’d sit with the sick, when they needed someone with them, his daughters said.
In addition to his daughters, he helped raise Adrenne’s daughter, Tiffany McCaskill Rivers, who gave him grandchildren Vellon and Steven Rivers.
“He was like a father to me, and I loved him dearly,” Gloria Rozzelle-Diggs wrote in his online memorial book. “His desire was his daughters’ happiness.”
Being loved by such a caring father should be every daughter’s legacy.
Editor’s note: This is our series called Lives That Matter. Written by Charlotte writer Gerry Hostetler, this weekly feature will profile individuals, recently deceased, who had a positive impact on those around them.
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