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Friday, September 7, 2012

Tita Caldwell, One of S.F.'s Beloved Wild Old Women, Dies

Posted By on Fri, Sep 7, 2012 at 2:36 PM

  • Courtesy of Occupy Bernal
  • Tita Caldwell

SF Weekly is sad to report that Tita Caldwell, one of the city's most active lesbian senior citizens who took on local banks alongside the Occupy Movement,  died this week from an apparent heart attack. She was 80.

Caldwell, born in 1931, was a self-described feminist and "movement activist" who came out as a lesbian when she was 45 years old and living in Southern California. She later moved to San Francisco, where she joined the Old Lesbians Organizing for a Change. Her most recent community work was earlier this year when she led the Wild Old Women in their weekly protests outside of the Bernal Heights Bank of America.

The following note was sent to members of the community, including Occupy Bernal, with whom she worked closely. 

Dear Friends. We are sad to tell you that Tita, a beloved leader of WOW, died this morning, September 5th, of a heart attack. She died wth family and close frends around her. A memorial is being planned but no date has been set. You can send cards to her children - Bryan and Doug Caldwell and Kris Gitelson at Tita's apartment, 190 Coleridge, Apt. 302, San Franciisco, 94110. At this time we are unable to accept phone calls. Please be assured we will let you know about memorial plans and other details when we know. You may send us emails if you wish.

In January, Caldwell spoke with SF Weekly about the Wild Old Women protests, which made national headlines, as San Francisco's elders fought on behalf of seniors who were losing their homes. Ever week (or at least every other week), Caldwell would led a disgruntled group of seniors, with walkers in tow, to the Mission Street Bank of America, where they'd sit outside for hours, protesting the bank's role in the housing meltdown. At the time, Caldwell explained she wasn't out to be cute or make a splash with these protests. "I am not little and I am not a lady," Caldwell quipped. "I just want to feel useful." 

And useful she was. Local Occupiers described Caldwell as an "amazing lifelong activist" who consistently fought for women's rights and gay rights. 

Here's what Caldwell said about herself on the OLOC website: "When I found Bay Area OLOC in 2005 I felt as if I had finally come home, after having been an activist and a feminist since the age of thirteen. Here were the women I had been looking for all my life."

We attempted to contact people close to her, but have not heard anything back yet. Caldwell will be sorely missed.

Follow us on Twitter at @TheSnitchSF and @SFWeekly

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About The Author

Erin Sherbert

Erin Sherbert

Erin Sherbert was the Online News Editor for SF Weekly from 2010 to 2015. She's a Texas native and has a closet full of cowboy boots to prove it.


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