Jack M. Callahan April 12, 1930 - April 1, 2021
Jack Callahan was born in Hugo, Oklahoma on April 12, 1930 to Ada and Victor Veno Callahan. After a short illness with pneumonia, Jack passed away on April 1, 2021. It is with heavy hearts that we say goodbye to our husband, father and grandfather.
Jack was the sixth child, born into a large family of 11 children. At a very early age, he left his family in Oklahoma and set out on his own. Moving from place to place, he ended up in McKinney Texas, where he met and married his wife, Willie Mae Price. He and his wife lived in Texas for a short time before they relocated to Arizona and then on to California and Washington, finally moving back to California and settling in Merced in 1969. During these years, Jack and Willie Mae would have 5 children.
Most of his life he worked as a mechanic, owning a couple of his own shops over the years. When he wasn’t working as a mechanic, he found other jobs driving farming equipment, working in cotton gins and odd farming jobs. Later in life he started up his own Gardening business. He would continue in this profession until he retired.
Jack had several passions in life. His love of playing music was a huge part of who he was. As a young boy, he taught himself to play the guitar. As a young man, he learned to play several other instruments, such as the banjo, mandolin, fiddle, harmonica, accordion, piano and a variety of other keyboard and string instruments. He never learned to read music and always played his instruments by ear. He organized and played in many bands during his life with his brothers and best friends. Whether at a Honky Tonk, a house party or at home, you could always find him playing his favorite Bluegrass and Country songs. He enjoyed playing his music for anyone willing to listen. In later years, he began visiting and sharing his music with Merced Nursing Home residents, trying to bring some joy into their lives. Several years ago, word got out about the shows he was putting on for the seniors. As he was entertaining one day at a local nursing home, Merced Sun Star came to watch and wrote an article about his show, calling him a “One Man Band”.
Music wasn't Jack's only entertainment skill. He was also known as a great story teller, especially of Tall Tales. Every time you saw him, you could count on him to have a new joke or story to tell you. He was always popular at any backyard BBQ and everyone always insisted he play his music and entertain them with his stories and jokes.
Another lifelong passion for Jack was fishing and being outdoors. He was most comfortable in nature. Every chance he got, he would go to a favorite fishing hole, where it wasn’t necessarily important that he caught that “Big One”. He was just happy to be outdoors. He found joy in passing on his love of fishing and outdoors, by teaching his children and grandchildren how to appreciate nature.
Whether he was living in the city or country, Jack always found a piece of land to plant his fruit and vegetable garden. He had a huge Green Thumb and his gardens always produced so much more than he and his family could eat. He began sharing his bounty of produce with local senior homes and those less fortunate. His charity to others was born in part from knowing first hand what it felt like to go hungry. He was born into the Great Depression and Dust Bowl and as a young boy in a poor family, he knew the feeling of hunger all too well and would do anything he could to make sure those around him would never feel this pain.
Jack is preceded in death by his mother, father, 4 brothers, 6 sisters, his daughter Jackie Ruth Callahan and his son Michael Vick Callahan. He leaves behind; his wife of 70 years, Willie Mae Callahan, daughter, Patricia Ann Gaoiran (Mel), daughter, Jackie Dale Rogers (Tommy) and son, Alan Wayne Callahan (Stacy). He also leaves behind 8 grandchildren, 13 great grandchildren and 5 great-great grandchildren.
Please join us for Jack’s Celebration of Life, which will be held at LifePlace Church, 2740 N State Highway 59, Merced, CA, on April 24, 2021 at 10am.
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