James Edward Callahan
Sept. 22, 1939-Aug. 13, 2020
James Edward Callahan, 80, passed away August 13, 2020 after a six-month illness. His internment was delayed by complications of the pandemic and geography. Jim was finally laid to rest with his beloved wife Paula at the Italian Cemetery in Colma, CA on Friday, September 15, 2023 in a small, private gathering.
Born September 22, 1939 in Endicott, NY, Jim spent his childhood and adolescence enjoying all that upstate New York had to offer. He was a devoted Eagle Scout, capable hunter, avid skier, water skier, and sailor with a special appreciation for vintage cars.
Jim attended Owego Free Academy in Owego, NY and was active in various theater productions. After graduating high school, he attended Harper College in Binghamton, NY where he studied liberal arts and honed his theater and opera skills as a tenor.
In 1958, Jim enlisted in the US Marine Corps. He completed his basic training at Camp Lejeune, NC and served in the reserves until his discharge in 1968. Always the adventurer, Jim hitchhiked to California and settled in San Francisco where he worked for Safeway, and then eventually, Boys Clubs of America. Jim began his exemplary career serving as a program director for the Columbia Park and Haight-Ashbury locations. In 1964, Jim married Paula (Henry) Callahan in Sunnyvale, CA. In 1968, Jim and Paula moved to Lodi, CA where he became the Executive Director of the Boys Club. It was here that Jim built a series of programs to address the needs of children of migrant workers resulting in a Presidential commendation. They welcomed their first child Amy in June 1969 and their second daughter Kristie in June 1971.
In 1972, The Callahans settled in the Bay Area where Jim became the Director of the South San Francisco and Pacifica Boys Clubs. He was proud to serve as a key witness for Isbister v. Boys Club of Santa Cruz, Inc. to ensure that girls would have the same access as boys leading to what we now know as the Boys and Girls Clubs of America. He and Paula raised their two daughters in Menlo Park, CA, where he lived until Paula’s death in 2007.
In the Spring of 2007, Jim bravely relocated to Bethel, ME to begin a new chapter. He re-engaged with all his passions for the outdoors including skiing, hiking, and lake life. In 2014, Jim met Sharon Bennett of Buckfield, ME. He was fortunate to find a second love in life and was warmly embraced by Sharon’s large extended family. Jim enjoyed numerous family gatherings and celebrations with Sharon and her family over the years. Sharon’s love and devotion brought great comfort to Jim in his final months.
Jim Callahan was an eternal optimist. He was a committed father and husband, a widower, a partner, and a friend to all he met. Jim relished his role as a devoted “Papa” to his four grandchildren. He was known for his joy, his devotion to his family, his will to persevere, his curiosity and desire to keep learning, his generosity, and his story telling. Jim completed his life without regret. He died trying.
Jim was preceded in death by his wife Paula Callahan (2007). He is survived by his daughters Amy Callahan McHugh (Alaistair McHugh) of Portland, OR and Kristie Callahan Gill of Brookline, MA and his grandchildren – Harrison, Carter and Elizabeth Gill and Frances McHugh.
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