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Published: Wednesday, 3/14/2012

Juanita May Caldwell, 1925-2012: Design-firm owner got start with builder


Juanita May Caldwell, a retired interior designer who did work for Scholz Homes and owned her own design firm, died Thursday in Hospice of Northwest Ohio in Perrysburg Township. She was 86.

Carol Dills said her mother, who lived in the Woodlands at Sunset apartments in Ottawa Hills, died of cancer.

Mrs. Caldwell began her career in interior design in the 1960s, employed by Scholz Homes as director of interior design. She picked furniture, paint colors, window coverings, and other amenities for the builder's model homes in the Lincolnshire neighborhood in West Toledo and other developments.

She took some classes at the University of Toledo in design and attended a seminar at the University of Oklahoma, but for the most part was self-taught, her daughter said.

"She was just very talented in that regard. Our home was always beautifully done," she said.

Mrs. Caldwell later began Design Abstracts Inc., which did interior design in the Toledo area and for her second husband's development company, handling projects in Michigan, Kentucky, New York, New Jersey, and Florida as well as in Ohio.

She was born Oct. 13, 1925, to Carrie and Homer Hall in Toledo. The youngest of eight children, she graduated from Scott High School.

She married Joseph LaJeunesse in 1942 and they had four children, including Mrs. Dills. They were married for 26 years before divorcing.

She married William Caldwell of Buffalo in 1972. Mrs. Dills said her mother was introduced to her future husband by a local real estate broker.

The couple subsequently moved to Buffalo, where Mrs. Caldwell did business for her husband's company as well as other work in the design field.

They later relocated to Bloomfield Hills, Mich., and Phoenix.

The Caldwells returned to Ohio about 2002, and Mrs. Dills said her mother retired from interior design about that time. Mr. Caldwell died June 23, 2010.

She was a member of the Institute of Business Designers.

Surviving are her daughters, Carol Dills, Janet Holt, and Jennifer Jacoby, son, William LaJeunesse, stepdaughters, Susan Caldwell and Sandra Caldwell, stepson, Steven Caldwell, nine grandchildren, and eight great-grandchildren.

There will be no immediate services. A celebration of her life is planned for Memorial Day weekend at Maumee Bay State Park.

The family suggests tributes to Victory Center or Hospice of Northwest Ohio.

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