CALLAHAN, DR. KENNETH R. (November 7, 1928 - June 12, 2011) was an oral surgeon, alumni fundraiser, and amateur historian. One of three siblings, he was born to Nelson J. Callahan and Mary Mulholland. His brother, REV. NELSON J. CALLAHAN, was a priest and historian of the Catholic Diocese of Cleveland.

Callahan grew up in St. Ann Parish before attending SAINT IGNATIUS HIGH SCHOOL as a member of the Class of 1946.  He graduated from JOHN CARROLL UNIVERSITY with a pre-med degree in 1950. Obtaining a degree from the WESTERN RESERVE UNIVERSITY School of Dentistry in 1955, he earned a postgraduate medical degree from the University of Pennsylvania Graduate School of Medicine in 1959.

Callahan performed oral surgery at what is now LUTHERAN MEDICAL CENTER for 13 years. Forming a partnership with his dental school colleague, Dr. Ronald Bell in MAYFIELD VILLAGE, he also conducted oral and maxillofacial surgery at UNIVERSITY HOSPITALS. He served as the president of the Northeast Ohio Society of Oral and Maxillofacial Surgeons.

Callahan was active with the alumni networks of both John Carroll University and Case Western Reserve University School of Dentistry. He served as the President of the John Carroll Alumni Association, was a trustee of the university for 18 years, and received the school’s Alumni Achievement Award in 1987. He also set up the Ken and Joan Callahan Endowed Scholarship Fund, a $5500 scholarship awarded every year to a rising JCU junior who hopes to pursue a career in medicine or dentistry. He served as the president of the CWRU School of Dentistry’s Alumni Association and helped to found the school’s Board of Overseers. He was honored in 2009 with the Distinguished Alumnus of the Year award from the dentistry school.

Callahan’s avid interest in history led him to write numerous articles for the PLAIN DEALER, serve as a guest lecturer at a John Carroll University military history class, and host a local TV show in Vero Beach, Florida, where he wintered.  He served as president of the Cleveland CIVIL WAR ROUNDTABLE and created numerous historical displays. He was instrumental in forming the Irish American Archives Society in 1994, serving as a long time member of the board. He was honored by the Society with the WALKS OF LIFE AWARD in 2010.

Callahan was an active political fundraiser for Republican candidates. He was an early supporter of George H. W. Bush; both the future President and his Secretary of Health and Human Services, Dr. Louis Sullivan, visited the replica Irish pub and military history displays that Callahan organized in his Shaker Heights home.  

Callahan's first wife, Joan (Reilly) Callahan, died in 1997.  He was married to Jeremy Brayton (Wilson) Callahan from 2001 until her death in 2010. He had four sons: Ken Jr., Kevin, Chris and Collin; and a daughter: Kate. He died on June 12, 2011 in BEACHWOOD at the age of 82 and is buried in Cleveland’s LAKE VIEW CEMETERY.

Daniel Brennan and David Patrick Ryan


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