James A. Callahan Sr., 80, racing commission secretary

November 27, 1998|By Erika D. Peterman | Erika D. Peterman,SUN STAFF

James Augur Callahan Sr., who spent 23 years as executive secretary of the Maryland Racing Commission before he retired in 1983, died Monday at Johns Hopkins Hospital after suffering a heart attack. He was 80.

Mr. Callahan became executive secretary of the commission in 1960 after working briefly in real estate. He served through the terms of 30 commission members, four chairmen and 13 assistant attorneys general assigned to work with the board, which regulates Maryland's horse racing industry.

In his long career in a politically charged environment, he avoided political entanglements.

"As long as I can remember, he was there," said his son James A. Callahan Jr. of Owings Mills. "His greatest accomplishment is that he went through several governors and several commissioners who were appointed to that position over [those] years. Obviously, he knew the inner workings of the commission, and the legislature and the commission followed his lead."

Born in Wilmington, N.C., Mr. Callahan moved to Baltimore as a child, where he was raised by uncles after the death of his parents before he was age 12.

Mr. Callahan graduated from City College. A short time later, he contracted tuberculosis, which claimed one of his lungs, his son said. Mr. Callahan served in the Navy for two years during World War II, where he was stationed in Panama.

In 1949, he married Peggy Hupfeldt of Baltimore, who died in 1993.

Mr. Callahan announced in June 1983 that he was stepping down from the post of executive secretary.

After retirement, he played golf and attended his grandchildren's lacrosse games. He was a member of Green Spring Valley Hunt Club and won many club golf tournaments.

"He spent all his later years playing golf, going to his grandchildren's sports games," James Callahan Jr. said. "He was an avid lacrosse fan. He followed private school lacrosse with a passion. He never missed a game."

A memorial Mass is scheduled for 10 a.m. tomorrow at the Roman Catholic Shrine of the Sacred Heart, Smith and Greely avenues, Mount Washington. Contributions may be sent to the Boys' Latin Club of Maryland, 822 W. Lake Ave., Baltimore 21213.

In addition to his son, Mr. Callahan is survived by another son, B. Kevin Callahan of Aberdeen; a daughter, Lynn Casey of Lutherville; a sister, Jean McBride of New Castle, Pa.; and three grandchildren.

Pub Date: 11/27/98

BTC

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