John Francis (Jack) Callahan


John Francis (Jack) Callahan died peacefully at age 94 on Sunday, February 19, 2012, in Laguna Beach, California. Jack resided in Costa Mesa, California since 1960. Jack was a happy, loving and optimistic soul, who lived a storied life during interesting times.

Jack was born in New York, New York, on July 10, 1917.  He was the second child of John and Margaret (Long) Callahan, who had emigrated from Cork County, Ireland to New York.   Jack had three brothers, Patrick, Daniel, and Edward.

Jack attended grade school in New York City, at Holy Name School, and went away to high school at St. Joseph’s Normal Institute in Barrytown, New York, to study to be a De La Salle Brother of the Christian Schools, a Roman Catholic teaching order.  He attended college at Catholic University of America in Washington, D.C. as part of his Christian Brother’s education.  He graduated with a Bachelor of Arts and was assigned to teach high school mathematics at La Salle Academy in Providence, Rhode Island.  While in Providence he attended graduate school at Brown University, studying differential equations.

In 1939 Jack decided teaching and religious life were not his calling and separated from the Christian Brothers and joined United Airlines in New York City as a ticket agent, working up to a supervisor position before enlisting in the Navy in 1942 shortly after the outbreak of World War II.  He was trained as a naval aviator and was assigned to the United States Marine Corps.  Jack met Helen Jones while stationed in Miami, Florida.  Helen and Jack were married on November 23, 1944, in Miami. 

In 1945 Jack’s flight squadron was assigned to Zamboanga in the Philippine Islands, where as a combat dive bomber pilot he was awarded an Air Medal and two Gold Stars in lieu of  second and third Air Medals and the Distinguished Flying Cross for “heroism and extraordinary achievement in aerial flight as pilot of a scout bomber plane in Marine Scout Bombing Squadron 142 in action against enemy Japanese forces in the Philippine Islands area from 2 to 14 June 1945.”  His squadron also received a citation from the General of the Eighth Army as part of Marine Air Group 32 for their outstanding contribution to the success of operations in the Philippine Islands. 
Jack and Helen returned to Jack’s home and his job with United Airlines in New York City after World War II ended in 1945.  Jack’s career with United Airlines took them to Boston, back to New York City, to Chicago, and finally to Orange County, and they had a child in each of those four places.  Helen and Jack had three sons John, Jr., Robert, and Kevin, and a daughter, Joanne.

Jack worked for United Airlines for 45 years, retiring as the Western Regional Marketing Manager.  He went to work as the Travel Advertising Manager for the Orange County Register where he retired at the age of 80 in 1997.

Jack was known for his love of his family and New York City, particularly the New York Yankees and the New York Football Giants. Jack could always be relied upon for good conversation, a kind smile, good humor and an occasional song.

Jack is survived by his brothers Patrick of Wilmette, Illinois, and Edward of Laguna Hills, California, sons Jack, Jr. of Costa Mesa, California, and Bob (Terry) of Balboa Island, California, daughter Joanne (Bob) McMahon of Laguna Beach, California, granddaughters Erin (Jason) Oremland of Sherman Oaks, California, Megan (Tony) Pirzadeh of Burbank, California, Katherine McMahon and Jacqueline McMahon of Laguna Beach,  California, and Heather (John) Cracraft of Superior, Colorado, grandson Kelly (Alexis) Hanes of Austin, Texas, great-grandchildren Elliott Oremland, Benjamin Oremland, Madeline Pirzadeh, Austin Cracraft and Abigail Cracraft, and many nieces and nephews.

Jack has joined in death his wife Helen, his brother Daniel and his son Kevin.

Memorial services will be private. Family and friends will then gather and celebrate a life well-lived.  Memorial contributions may be made to the Hoag Hospital Foundation in memory of John F. Callahan, 500 Superior Avenue, Ste. 350, Newport Beach, California 92663.

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