John Callahan

Posted: Sunday, June 08, 2008

Juneau resident John Callahan died peacefully at his home on the morning of June, 6, 2008, surrounded by family members. He was 86.

Born June 11, 1921, in Huntington Beach, Calif., to Georgia and LeRoy Callahan, he enlisted in Royal Canadian Air Force at age 17 and was the youngest flight instructor in Moosejaw, Saskatchewan, Canada.

He later was commissioned by President Roosevelt as a lieutenant junior grade in the U.S. Navy, where he served as a flight instructor at Naval Air Station Pensacola. It was there that he met his wife, Mary Linda Smith, and they were married in a military ceremony at the air station.

They married in 1942 and later moved to Long Beach, Calif., and San Diego. Following his military service, he moved with his wife and two daughters to Juneau in 1949, when he was employed by Alaska Coastal Airlines for the next 20 years.

He retired in 1969, and he and Linda traveled in their motor home and later settled in Laguna Niguel, Calif.

His passion in life was flying, his family said, and he always said that "he got paid to do what he loved most in life."

In 1949, he brought the first PBY (World War II seaplane) to Juneau, which became a mainstay mode of transportation in Southeast Alaska, along with the Grumman Goose.

He was instrumental in the development of the Super Goose and was not only a flight instructor but also a test pilot for Alaska Coastal-Ellis Airlines. He held a mechanic's rating for various aircraft.

His family said he adored his family and loved to travel and explore in his motor home, as well as go camping, fishing and boating. He was an avid reader and an expert at crossword puzzles, they said.

He was preceded in death by his wife, Linda Callahan, in 1989; grandson, Eric Blomquist; and great-grandson, Justin James-Smith.

He is survived by his three daughters, Linda Kvasnikoff and husband, Jerry, Debi James and husband, John, and Donna Blomquist, of San Diego; 10 grandchildren, Christine Millay, Shauna Karimzadeh and John Heueisen, Brian, Scott and Lisa Blomquist, Cassandra Days, Cyndi Issak, Chrystina Aulger and Johnny Perrin; 26 great-grandchildren and nine step-grandchildren; wife, Liz Brooks, of Laguna Niguel, Calif.; brother, George David Callahan and his wife, Margaret, of Redding, Calif.; and sister, Jeanette Ausness, of Sun Valley, Idaho.

A memorial service will be held at 5 p.m. Sunday, June 8, at Bethany Baptist Church on Forest Lane in Juneau. A potluck reception will follow.

In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to Hospice of Juneau or a favorite charity.

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