In Memory of Robert Callahan

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in memory of
Robert Callahan

Robert Callahan

Farmingdale residents who remember Von Leeson’s luncheonette on Main Street may also recall the familiar sight of local lawyer Robert M. (“Bob”) Callahan sitting at the same booth each day, having the same lunch of tomato soup with grilled cheese or, in his later years, whole wheat toast.  This mild dependability was a hallmark of his steadfast devotion to his family, country, church and community.  Whether it was walking door-to-door collecting signatures for petitions or serving pancakes at Rotary Club breakfasts, Bob was a man of unfailing kindness, generosity and good spirit.  

Long-time Farmingdale resident and co-founder of the firm now known as Carman Callahan & Ingham, LLP, Bob Callahan passed away peacefully on January 17, 2017, with his wife of 65 years, Cathleen, at his side.  He was 92.  

Born in Brooklyn, NY on January 14, 1925, he was the third of four sons born to Walter and Rose Tierney Callahan.  In 1939, the family moved to Farmingdale, where Bob lived for the remainder of his life.  He graduated from Farmingdale High School in 1942 and attended Hofstra University until he joined the U.S. Army Air Force in 1943.  

During World War II, Bob was assigned to an Army Air Force group that flew missions over Germany, departing from various locations in England and Italy.  After the war in Europe ended, he was briefly stationed in Okinawa.  He served as a gunner, including waist, tail and ball turret gunner, flying close to 50 missions during the course of the war.  These were extremely hazardous assignments, with mortality rates close to 30%.  Always calm in the face of danger, Bob was awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross.

At the conclusion of WW II, Bob returned to Farmingdale and attended St. John’s Law School, where he distinguished himself academically, graduating at the top of his class in 1948.  Following graduation, he joined Hon. Willis B. Carmen, Sr. to form the law firm now known as Carman Callahan & Ingham LLP.  Bob served as a name partner of the firm until his retirement, and was recognized by the Nassau County Bar Association for over 60 years of distinguished service.  He was a general practitioner with a focus on real estate, wills, trusts, estates and elder law, and was trusted counsel to many clients, including Sunrise Federal Savings and Loan Association (now part of Capital One, N.A.)  A true legal scholar, he was scrupulously honest and relied upon as an expert on case law and regulatory rules.  He was also a member of the Nassau County Bar Association and the Catholic Lawyers Association.   

As frugal as he was scrupulous, he walked a mile to and from work every day, and was known to forego modern extravagances like air conditioning and power mowers, much to the consternation of his family.  Until his retirement, local residents could set their clocks by the sight of him passing along local roads, clutching his briefcase.  

He met his wife Cathleen (née Neary) during a St. Patrick’s Day dance at St. Kilian’s, where she was serving food to returned servicemen after the war.  According to family legend, he impressed her with his chivalry and kindness, inquiring as to who would wait upon her.  They married in 1951 and had seven children, renewing their vows and recently receiving a papal blessing parchment from Pope Francis honoring their 65-year marriage.  He enjoyed classical music, summers in Vermont and reading history, among other things, but his motto was always “Family first.”

While raising his large family and practicing law, Bob also found time to serve his community, serving at various times as Farmingdale Village Magistrate; Farmingdale Village Prosecutor; and President of each of the Farmingdale Youth Council, the Farmingdale Library Board of Trustees and the Holy Name Society at St. Kilian’s.  He was an active member of the Farmingdale Rotary Club and the Farmingdale-Bethpage Historical Society, and was a Democratic committeeman for over 30 years.   

He is survived by his wife Cathleen; his children Robert (Vicki), also of Farmingdale, Mary Starke of Bellmore, Grace of Port Washington, David and Sheila (John), both of New York City, and Siobhan Callahan-Brüns (Marco Brüns) of Bremen, Germany; and six grandchildren.  He was predeceased by his son Joseph. 

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