Our loving dad, John Robert Callahan, 90, passed away peacefully on Friday, January 12, 2024. He was doing what he loved most, sleeping!
Dad was born on February 24, 1933, in Green Bay, to his wonderful parents, the late John and Virginia (Vanden Bosch) Callahan. He was the oldest of 12 children! His siblings include the late Mary (late Darrell) Panure, Pat (Karen) Callahan, Ollie (late Dick) Isenard, Maureen (late Al) Falk, Allen (Pat) Callahan, late Larry Callahan, Dennis (Lynn) Callahan, Bob (Colleen) Callahan, Terry (John) Turner, Mark (Molly) Callahan and the late Michael Callahan. He truly loved all his brothers and sisters and helped to raise many of them.
Dad was a proud graduate of Central Catholic High School in 1952. He made lifelong friends with several of the men he attended high school with and was on the planning committee for many of their class reunions. After graduating, he joined the Coast Guard and was stationed in Kenosha until his honorable discharge in 1956.
Dad worked his entire life supporting his families. As a young boy he helped his mother clean at night, at age 11 he was a pin setter at the Northside Bowling Lanes, working for nickels and dimes in tips and 8 cents in wages and he also had a paper route. His mother truly appreciated his financial support and always gave him back some spending money. After his time with the Coast Guard, he worked for Chevrolet Motors and bartended at night. One day a man offered him a job “selling whiskey” and that was the beginning of his career at Gateway Liquor Company. He worked for Gateway until the age of 55 and then began his 10-year career with the Wisconsin Lottery. Dad loved being with people, especially socializing in the nightlife, so after retirement in 1998, he began one of his favorite jobs, bartending at The Union Hotel. Oh how he loved that job!!! He met so many wonderful people there who still remember him as the bartender with the Green Bay Packers bow tie and cummerbund!
On September 3, 1960, Dad married our beautiful mother, Fay Woldt. He recalls the day as one of the hottest days of the year but also one of the best days in his life. Fay was his best friend Larry Woldt’s sister! They had a wonderful marriage filled with amazing friends, memorable trips and three outstanding children: Kitty (Mike) Janas, Kerri (Jim) Collins and Patrick (Stacey) Callahan. Dad adored Mom! He told her every day of her life that she was beautiful and that he loved her. He provided a wonderful life for his children and kept them laughing, even up to his last days. Dad was so proud of our accomplishments and was humbled when we reminded him it was because of him and Mom that we were all so fortunate. Dad was also blessed with three beautiful granddaughters, and four beautiful great-granddaughters, whom he adored! Granddaughters: Katie (Jeremy) Fischer, Kelly (Abe Riederer) Collins and Molly (Garrett Rogers) Collins. Great-granddaughters: Maria, Berkley, Isabella and Ellie. The girls have fond memories of playing with and traveling with Grandpa to Disney World, Door County, Wisconsin Dells and Clearwater Beach. He always made them feel special!
Dad was an Irishman to his core!!! The twinkle in his eyes and his kind ways made him immediately likable. He was a proud member of the Green Bay Chapter of the Ancient Order of Hibernians. He and Mom enjoyed dressing up and celebrating every St. Patrick’s Day.
Dad would say that besides his family, his greatest legacy was being a Green Bay Packers Season Ticket holder at both City Stadium and Lambeau Field. Dad loved the Green Bay Packers!!! He and Mom attended almost every home game, including the 1967 Ice Bowl as well as Super Bowl XXXII in SanDiego, California. Dad had the greatest tailgate parties. People from all over the world would stop by for a drink and fellowship. Last year, Dad said he wanted to attend one more game, so on a cold November Sunday, we bundled him up and took him to Lambeau to see the Packers beat the Dallas Cowboys! He passed on his love for the Packers to his children and grandchildren and we will treasure our times with them at Lambeau, along with our season tickets forever! We know Dad and Mom will be cheering on the Green Packers from the front row in Heaven.
Dad and Mom had so many wonderful friends. This includes lifelong friends from high school, Gateway Liquor Company, the Union, and relatives, especially those crazy Woldts!! Really, anyone who met John Callahan, was instantly a friend. He enjoyed many trips to Las Vegas and Florida with his family and friends and was also fortunate to travel to Hawaii, Ireland and Mexico for his daughter’s wedding. His friendships were always something he treasured!
Dad said he had a wonderful life! He worked hard and he played hard. He was full of love and appreciated everything and everyone who helped him, especially after losing Mom in 2022. We are comforted that they are together again, probably jitterbugging the night away in Heaven.
Visitation will be held from 9:30 to 11:15 a.m. Friday, January 19th at St. Bernard Catholic Church, 2040 Hillside, Green Bay. The Mass of Christian Burial will be celebrated at 11:30 a.m. Friday at the church. Entombment be in Allouez Chapel Mausoleum. To send online condolences, visit www.prokowall.com. St. John’s Homeless Shelter of Green Bay was an organization close to the hearts of John and Fay. In lieu of other expressions of sympathy, please consider a donation to this wonderful resource.
Special thanks to the caregivers at Dimensions Living (formerly Age Well Centre for Life Enrichment) where they lived before Mom’s passing and his youngest sister, “Aunt Terry” and Debbie from Christian Servants who helped enable us to have Dad live with Kerri and Jim until his death. Special thanks also to the wonderful care staff the Green Bay and Appleton VA centers, Sheila Teddy, and Prevea Health Care for your compassion and respect.
Jeane Smits is serving the family.