Saturday, March 23, 2019

In Appreciation of Ted Caddell 1960-2017

By Rich Heidorn Jr.

CARY, N.C. — RTO Insider the publication has lost its wittiest voice. RTO Insider the company has lost its centrifugal force, its welcome wagon, its sage, its ultimate team player and certainly part of its soul.

Ted and his granddaughter, Charlotte in February. His comment on Facebook on the photo: “I have NO idea why this child is crying. Honest!”

Ted Caddell, RTO Insider’s longest-serving staffer — and the voice of our daily emails and frequently our social media postings — passed away overnight Tuesday, hours after helping to cover the ISO Summit here. He was 56.

Ted, who formerly lived in Wilmington, Del., and Charlottesville, Va., moved to Chapel Hill, N.C., about five years ago, following his companion, Leslie. He picked me and RTO Insider co-founder Merry Eisner up from Raleigh-Durham International Airport on Monday night. We then ate dinner with him and Leslie in Chapel Hill, where he told us how he would not eat shrimp that wasn’t North Carolina wild — no farm-raised seafood for him!

I ordered the North Carolina shrimp, and was not disappointed.

On Tuesday, he took photographs and reported on the opening session of the RTO Insider/SAS ISO Summit with PJM CEO Andy Ott, SPP CEO Nick Brown and former FERC Commissioner Tony Clark.

We expected him Wednesday morning for the second day of the summit and were concerned when he did not appear. While I was moderating the first panel of the morning, Merry got a phone call informing us of his passing.

Merry informed me of the news during a break, and I was on stage for a second panel when my phone rang with a call from Charlottesville, where I knew his brother Ray — a bandleader for whom Ted had previously worked as a roadie — lived. I handed the phone to Merry to take the call.

Since the Summit ended, I have been back in my hotel room, letting the tears flow and trying to pull myself together enough to help compose a tribute worthy of the man.

I have known Ted since the late 1990s, when I was covering electric deregulation for The Philadelphia Inquirer, and Ted, a former reporter for The News-Journal in Wilmington, was a spokesman for what was then Conectiv Energy, a Delaware-based subsidiary of Pepco Holdings Inc. There are good, bad and mediocre spokespeople, and Ted was undoubtedly one of the best. Funny, personable, self-deprecating. Even if it wasn’t a big story, I never remember a day that wasn’t better for having talked to Ted.

Ted and his granddaughter Mayble.

We hired Ted at RTO Insider in January 2014, less than a year after our launch. But I wouldn’t actually meet Ted in person until about a year later, when he was in Wilmington visiting his daughter Nicole and newborn granddaughter, Charlotte.

Ironically, as we joked over dinner Monday, we had covered the same story for our competing newspapers in 1996: the execution of Billy Bailey in Delaware, the last hanging in the U.S.

At RTO Insider, we have made it a priority to hire reporters near the headquarters of all of the ISOs and RTOs in the U.S. In Chapel Hill, Ted was nowhere near any of them. But he nonetheless made himself immediately indispensable as the first editor of our Briefs columns and as the lead reporter on many breaking news stories. He was particularly knowledgeable about generation, having done public relations for Exelon’s generation unit after leaving Conectiv.

As he wrote for his bio on our About Us page, Ted had an English literature degree from the University of Delaware, “which may explain why he’s also worked as a commercial fisherman, a roofer, landscaper and spent three years as a roadie for a swing band and orchestra.”

Ted the roadie, second from right, with Rat Pack impersonators. | Photo courtesy Ray Caddell

In January, when we launched our daily email alerts, he was our voice, and he had an immediate impact. Some people, frankly, did not appreciate his witty “lead-in” and preferred to go right to the summaries of our latest content. A handful of people were offended when he got a bit risqué or political.

They were in a decided minority. More common were comments like these:

  • I read five or six energy newsletters a day, which are typically quite boring. The daily opening commentary of RTO Insider’s newsletter is incredibly entertaining and I look forward to reading it every day. — Nick Esch, Smart Electric Power Alliance
  • Ted, thanks for really taking the “readability” factor up a notch! I look forward to your musings every day. — Joe Leingang, fuel & transport superintendent, Basin Electric Power Cooperative.
  • I just wanted to say that I truly enjoy Ted Caddell’s summary emails each day. I always love the random other news he provides. It’s quite hilarious. — Jen Clements, Xcel Energy
  • I love the changes that RTO Insider has made this year. I look forward to reading the quips and punchy, but newsworthy, introductions each day. I also enjoy that it’s not always related to our industry — a teaser of sorts before getting into the day’s news. — Tia Elliott, NRG Energy
  • Hey — I don’t know who comes up with these little nuggets at the beginning of the Insider. But I enjoy them tremendously. Thank you! — Marguerite Wagner, ITC Holdings

And here were the reflections of some of his colleagues:

From Bill Opalka, our former NYISO/ISO-NE correspondent, who just left us for a job with the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority:

Newsrooms are places that are full of characters, and in his day, Ted must surely had been one. He always had a quip at the ready and was full of oddball insights about the world, life and even the news. Although we were based 600 miles apart and never met face-to-face, I felt like I knew him better than most of the colleagues with whom I shared office space. He was that open and had a killer wit that got us through any crisis too.

But underneath the jokester façade, Ted was a serious newsman always looking for the next story and ready to jump in when colleagues were busy chasing other news. He’d often call with the latest scoop: “Did you hear about the Massachusetts pipeline? What’s going on at Indian Point?” And most of the time I’d reply, “Thanks, Ted, I’m already on it,” and he’d seem a little crushed that he couldn’t help.

Ted, you’ll be missed.

From Julie Gromer, our current Briefs editor, who joined us in September 2016:

The impact that Ted had on my life in such a short time period is pretty incredible.

Words cannot express my sadness. When I joined RTO Insider, Ted was the first person to reach out to welcome me to the team — and to offer any assistance that I needed. Over the past seven months, he became my online friend — checking in every day to see how I was doing, sharing news of his family and grandchildren, laughing about world events, and always offering encouragement — both in my professional and personal life.

I feel honored to have known Ted. I will miss his friendship, his “can do” attitude and his unique brand of wit.

From Tom Kleckner, our SPP and ERCOT correspondent, based in Little Rock, Ark.:

I never met Ted in person (though our paths may have crossed at one point), but I felt like I did. That may be all you need to say about Ted.

We did share direct messages and Facebook posts, and had several long phone conversations. I know I would have enjoyed Ted’s company. Check out his Facebook photos. Unless he was acting on stage, he always had a smile on his face — and an unruly head of hair that apparently didn’t get along with caps.

Ted’s writing reveals that same good nature. He was always looking for the off-beat stories that helped show what our world is really about.

From account executive Marge Gold:

As I sit here with my eyes swelled up, it is hard to see clearly to even type. But, clearly Ted made me smile every time I saw him on our weekly video calls, with his Starbucks in hand. He was a unique man, that I will not soon forget.

From Michael Brooks, our production/copy editor and D.C. reporter:

Ted was just as friendly as he was funny — and he was hilarious. Unfortunately, I mostly experienced that friendliness online. The Internet enables a company like ours to function even though we live in different parts of the country, but because of that, I was only able to ever meet Ted in-person once. I am truly saddened that I will not be able to have another laugh with him that isn’t online.

Suzanne Herel, our former PJM correspondent, recalled his motto:

“Every day’s a holiday, every meal’s a feast.” I miss you dreadfully, Ted.

From MISO correspondent Amanda Durish Cook:

Whenever I approached Ted with a technical question, he’d make sure to weave some humor into the explanation. He just made it delightful. I always enjoyed collecting news stories to pass to him for the repartee.

From CAISO/WECC  correspondent Robert Mullin:

With your co-workers spread across the country, you can miss out on some aspects of easy friendship that can develop with people you happen to share space with seven or eight hours a day. Ted was someone who sought to close that distance. When I started with RTO Insider, he would call just to check in, see how things were going. There was usually nothing specific to talk about, and during those conversations I learned a little about his life, his partner, Leslie, his kids, and his two young granddaughters Mayble and Charlotte — just a bit younger than my own son.

Let me direct my last comments to you, Mayble and Charlotte: your grandfather was sharp-witted, blunt, warm-hearted — irrepressible in his opinions, but thoughtful. Salt of the earth. I wish I could’ve had more time to get to know him better. I wish you could’ve, too. I hope you carry a little bit of him with you into the future.

Ted often returned to Wilmington to visit his daughter, Nicole Wample, and his beloved granddaughters, Mayble, 3, and Charlotte, who turns 2 on Friday. He is also survived by his partner, Leslie Udry; his mother, Sally, of Avon Park, Fla.; his older brother, Ray, of Charlottesville, Va.; and his son, Michael, of Philadelphia.

Memorial arrangements are pending. We will update this story when they are available.

“He loved his job,” said Ray. “It was good for him.”

He was good for all of us too.


  1. Richard Kiger (Wilmington, Delaware) on March 15, 2017 at 10:39 PM

    You may not see some friends for a long time, but the friendship endures and when you meet, you pick up just where you left off last time. I’ve lost a friend, someone I expected to see one day when fortune favored me, and I don’t like it. I enjoyed Ted’s postings on FaceBook, and felt he wasn’t that far away, although he was. I’ve lost someone I really liked and always enjoyed talking to. We’ll meet again, just not as I expected. My condolences to Ted’s loved ones. You are in my thoughts and prayers.

  2. Pat McGarry on March 16, 2017 at 8:58 AM

    My condolences to Ted’s family and the RTO Insider family.

  3. Patrick Monteith on March 16, 2017 at 10:01 AM

    To Ted’s family, friends, and co-workers- I am deeply sorry for your loss. I met Ted only in passing this Tuesday, but I have started my day off with a smile thanks to his wit and musings over the last few months.

  4. Berlinda Bruce on March 16, 2017 at 11:00 AM

    Ted’s passing leaves a hole in the universe.

  5. Terri Sanginiti on March 16, 2017 at 11:18 AM

    A fitting tribute to my friend and former colleague Ted. It brought tears to my eyes just reading it because it spoke truly of his quirky essence. I worked with Ted when I arrived at the News Journal in 1996. I was the middle reporter in a 3-person copshop no bigger than a closet. Ted had the morning gig and broke me in. He loved being a police reporter and so did I. He nicknamed me Hurricane for all the chaos I brought to the beat. Those were the days! Through the years he would keep in touch and frequently call me – because we had shared the same phone number for so long if wasn’t hard to forget. After I retired, we stayed in touch on facebook. Ted would always have a smart quip to make on his and everybody else’s page. I can’t believe he’s gone now.
    The world will not be the same without Ted Caddell in it and it is a shame for those who never crossed his path in this life.

    • John Gano on March 18, 2017 at 9:36 AM

      I’ve known Teddy since childhood and lm So glad l got to know the good, the bad, and the ugly of his life, but l feel so fortunate to have been connected to him throughout the years the the wit and delight he always brought to our interactions. I’m glad l got to experience this world with him in various states of mind…he was quirky & l think that’s why he and l connected from beginning to end!

  6. Diane King on March 16, 2017 at 11:20 AM

    Ted was a dear friend of mine and my late husband’s in Delaware. He would always come over to our home and we’d drink coffee and have a few laughs (mostly laughing at and with Ted). I remember the last time he came to visit he and Leslie came and stayed with me. Leslie had a lunch date with old friends. … well Ted was jealous, so so jealous that I just kept this going for a long time. He was so easy to pick on and to LOVE from the heart. He is now up in the big sky visiting my late husband and having a ball with quite a few people there. Ted is no stranger to us on Earth or to anyone up in the big blue sky. He has touched so many of us that he can’t escape. I and many here from his home town will truly miss him! We love you Ted… thanks for being my Friend!
    Diane King (Claymont, DE)

  7. Jane Reid on March 16, 2017 at 1:47 PM

    Thank you for a lovely story about Ted, and the update on his doings since leaving the Wilmingto npaper where I worked with him.

  8. Steve Huntoon on March 16, 2017 at 3:13 PM

    A shock and a tragedy. I worked with Ted at Conectiv Energy. He was the consummate professional and a lot of fun. A great wit.
    We reconnected when he joined RTO Insider, and for the last three years we’ve exchanged emails with Ted always saying something funny.
    And Ted’s most recent daily commentary has been a delight.
    Ted, you were already missed this morning.
    My condolences to your family.

  9. Joe DiStefano on March 16, 2017 at 5:31 PM

    Sweet my Lord, it is too soon to be losing Ted. Smart and funny and generous and thoughtful. Thank you Rich for marking his loss and ours

  10. David Pinto on March 16, 2017 at 6:49 PM

    Quite shocked. As a reader, I never met Ted personally, but felt I knew him as I looked forward to reading his wonderfully droll intros to – let’s face it – rather dry energy regulatory updates in my inbox. I even shared a couple of Ted’s best intros with my 12-year old son, and we both invariably found a nugget of wisdom, great research material or at the very least, a good laugh together (with due apologies to RTO Insider and Merry Eisner for copyright infringement). Sincere condolences…he will certainly be missed.

  11. Yolanda F Pagano on March 17, 2017 at 12:35 PM

    Thank you for this lovely tribute to a truly wonderful colleague from my Exelon days and also a reader of the daily alerts. Just a few weeks ago, I dropped Ted a line about the development of contraceptive Nutella for squirrels (having returned from vacation to find one in my home). I’m glad I got to tell him in that email that I appreciated his work. His voice and presence will surely be missed. My thoughts and prayers are with his loved ones, including his RTO Insider family.

  12. John Gano on March 18, 2017 at 9:51 AM

    I’ve known Teddy since childhood and l’m So glad l got to know the good, the bad, and the ugly about him and from his life. l feel so fortunate to have been closely connected to him throughout the years & to his wit and delight he always brought to all our interactions. I’m glad l got to experience this world with him in various states of mind…he was quirky & l know that’s why he and l connected from beginning to end! I’ll always remember singing (screaming) “We ARE The Champions a couple of times after winning State Championships for Boys Swim consecutive years! Teddy you’ll always be a Champion to all of us who’ve known and loved you!

  13. Gina on March 28, 2017 at 1:11 PM

    I am seeing this for the first time, and I am heartbroken. I’ve known Ted for nearly 20 years first as a newspaper reporter (we worked for Gannett but two different states), then as a flak for Atlantic City Electric (he covered for the usual spokesperson when she was vacation or otherwise occupied) but it wasn’t until we worked for Exelon that we met in person.
    I am still processing this huge loss of one of the best men I’ve ever had the privilege to call friend. To this family, I am deeply sorry for your loss. He was the best of the best. I will always cherish his friendship, guidance and championship of things that mattered to him and those he cared about. In one of your last conversations, I mentioned I was going to launch a second business and later that day – boom, he had sent me links for some of the research. He was always doing little things like that.
    To Ted, God bless and keep you. Knowing you made me a better person, and my life was better for having you in it.

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