Frank P. Callaghan
On March 17, 1978, this country lost a great American. This man was my Grandfather, Frank P. Callaghan. I was only two years old at the time, but his work over his lifetime has been a source of inspiration and encouragement. Frank served his community with passion, and his mission was always to help improve people’s quality of life. Dedaddy, as I call him, had a real concern for the less fortunate people in or community. He helped many expecting nothing in return.
Frank Callaghan’s career with the United States Government was one filled with many awards and recognitions. He entered federal service in 1940 with the Immigration and Naturalization Service. He then served in the Intelligence division of the Manhattan Engineering District in 1943 and later was selected as the Director of Security of the Oak Ridge Operations in the early 1950s. His job was an influential one in the post-WWII era of the Atomic Energy Commissions history. In 1957, he took part in a security review of four NATO countries in Europe. He helped to complete a bilateral agreement between the United States and other countries for secure information exchange between those countries. He was awarded the Superior Service Award in 1958 as the result of how his initiatives were received. In 1971, he was the Atomic Energy Commission’s representative in a joint project with the Department of Defense to revise how it was that our government handled classified documents. During his career, he was an outstanding employee and a valued asset to the intelligence community.
Over the years I have had several conversations with two of his closest friends. There was no doubt Frank loved what he did professionally, but he felt his more rewarding work was in our community helping others. His accomplishments were significant in this area. From writing speeches for the Mayor of Oak Ridge, to helping start the CONTACT answering service for those needing emotional support, Dedaddy seemed to be involved in every aspect of social concern. In 1968, he organized a five-week seminar titled “An Experiment in Social Concern.” This project helped influence many citizens to take the social concerns of the day seriously and laid the foundation for many initiatives that would come later. In 1964, Frank co-founded the Oak Ridge Civic Ballet Association and was one of the early board members of the Oak Ridge Art Center. In 1967, he worked with Leslie Dale, serving as executive chairman of the Oak Ridge 25th committee. This was a year-long celebration of the city’s anniversary. We have the recorded tapes from many of the events from that year, including the closing ceremony where General Leslie Groves attended and made a historic speech on Blakenship Field.
He served as chairman of the Oak Ridge Housing Authority in 1970 after being vice-chair for two years. He vigorously fought for low-income housing to be offered in neighborhoods that were not isolated from the rest of the community. In 1978, Even as Frank was fighting his own battle with cancer, he appeared before City Council to fight for more low-income housing in Oak Ridge. He died less than a month later. In 1977, Frank was presented with the Columbus Award by the Oak Ridge Council of the Knights of Columbus. This award was reserved for citizens who showed outstanding community service, and the Governor also proclaimed October 22nd as “Frank Callaghan Day” in the state of Tennessee.
So, with a life full of accomplishments and outstanding community service, what else can be said? Dedaddy loved his Irish heritage. St. Patrick’s Day has always been a grand celebration for the Callaghan’s. It was by no coincidence that Frank Callaghan died on St. Patrick’s Day. After all, St. Patrick died on that very day. Amazingly, Frank and St. Patrick have a lot in common. Serving their Lord and Savior Jesus Christ was their priority. St. Patrick showed incredible social concern, as did Frank Callaghan. Separated by over 1500 years in time but brought back together by the blood of Jesus Christ. How does one man have time to do all of that? While helping raise five children? I have two words for that. Lois Callaghan. She was a loving wife and mother who did an outstanding job raising five brilliant and loving children. Each has made their mark on this beautiful country. Memommy, as I call her, passed away in February. She lived a mission filled and incredible life. Memommy passed away quietly, her children by her side, and a picture of her beloved husband Frank on her nightstand. She and her Frank are now back together again, dancing in heaven well into the night.
One thing that I have realized is that Dedaddy was an extraordinary man. Trying to follow in his footsteps is a very daunting task. This man did it all. I have concluded that in God’s time, He will show me what else He has for me in this life. It starts by being the best version of myself. It begins by being a good father, husband, son, cousin, brother, nephew, leader, and employee. Those relationships are what is most important. I don’t always wear these hats well, and I fail often. Thank you Dedaddy and Memommy for what you have taught us. For helping us understand that it is not about us. It’s much bigger than us. Most importantly, thank you for taking the Great Commission seriously. Let’s go out and make disciples of all nations. Like St. Patrick did. Like Frank Callaghan did. Like Lois Callaghan did. I pray we never forget where we came from and we always honor those who came before us.