Retiree Spotlight: Alva R. Caldwell

The ATLA Endowment Committee presented an update on the ATLA Retirees and Lifetime Members at the 2016 ATLA Annual Conference. This Newsletter series will recap what they shared.

Alva R. Caldwell served at the United Library of Garrett-Evangelical Theological Seminary for 38 years. During his long career at the United Library, he served as Reference Librarian (1969-1977), Acting Librarian (1977-1978), and then as Librarian and Associate Professor of Ministries (1978-2007).

At ATLA, he was active in the Readers Services Section and the Religious Book Readers Group. In 1990, Alva’s institution hosted the ATLA Annual Conference. Some of his favorite conferences included the 1993 Annual Conference in Vancouver when he went up to Grouse Mountain and the cable cars went out of order. Another favorite was the the 1994 Annual Conference in Pittsburgh, where he toured restored houses of worship, including a Roman Catholic church which held the “bicuspid of Anthony of Padua,” a restored Methodist Church, and a beautiful synagogue. He said, “I think I only missed two or three meetings between 1970 and 2007. I don’t think of myself as a leader in ATLA, more like an active participant.”

Alva and his wife, Bonnie, celebrated their 50th wedding anniversary in August 2015. They have traveled quite a bit since retirement to such places as Chile, Argentina, Uruguay, Caribbean Islands, England, and France.

He remains active in the church as an Elder in the United Methodist Church and also volunteers as a Pastor for Pastoral Care at Joy Lutheran Church in Gurnee, IL.

Thank you to the Endowment Committee for their work in curating this information. If you would like to submit your story for publication and for the 2017 ATLA Annual Conference, please e-mail


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