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Baldwinite Grace Callahan dies at 94


Grace Callahan, 94, of Baldwin, died on Jan. 24. She was a longtime Baldwin resident, beloved neighbor and friend.

She was born in October 1926 in the Bronx to Irish immigrant parents. She attended Mount Saint Ursula Academy and Fordham University.

In 1950, she married the late John “Jack” Callahan, her husband of 47 years. They lived in Manhattan for nine years before moving to Baldwin, where she became a beloved parishioner of Queen of the Most Holy Rosary Church for 62 years.

Her husband, John, was a proud firefighter with Ladder Company No. 2 of the Baldwin Fire Department. Callahan is fondly remembered by her neighbors as a loved and supportive wife and friend, said Jerry Brown, of Ladder 2, longtime neighbor of Callahan’s on North William Street in Baldwin, where the Callahans raised their four children.

Callahan is survived by children John Callahan (Rosemary), Michael Callahan (Irma), Regina Callahan, Therese Callahan James (Vincent); grandchildren John “JW,” Ana “Anita,” Brett, Sarah, Brendan, Flannery, Aiden, Rian, Teresa and Silvia; great-grandchildren Riley, Devyn, Susannah, Teagan, Samantha, Kira, Cal, Trustin, Isabel, Sofia, Sean, Alexa and Christian; dear friends from the Secular Franciscan Order and the 8 o’clock mass and treasured “buddy,” Patricia Molinari.

After they lost their own mothers, “Aunt Grace” was like a second mom to nieces and nephews Bob (Nancy), Brian (Marit), Kevin, Patrick (Vikki), Declan, Graceann (Bryan) and Janet.

Callahan was also a second mom to her “third son” Bill, to whom she was “Mrs. C.” In addition to her husband, John, she was predeceased by siblings Willie, Eileen, Betty and cousins who were like brothers, Johnny and Billy O’Hara, nieces Barbara and Claire, and beloved lifelong friends Lillian and Fred Meyer.

She worked as a Metropolitan Life Insurance Company secretary in Manhattan, a Nassau County Board of Elections Clerk and a Continuing Education sewing teacher, but her true work was with the many people she served through her faith.

In her parish, Callahan was a compassionate bereavement minister, Outreach and hospice volunteer, and Eucharistic minister for the homebound. As a member of the Secular Franciscan Order, she was the fraternity secretary, newsletter reporter and founder of the “Friends of Francis” letter-writing ministry to prisoners.

She was also among a small group of donors who helped bring a supply of fresh water to a village in Uganda. Friends and family said she not only touched the lives of those privileged to be part of her daily world, but those across the globe and behind prison walls. The reach of her love was wide.

Always hungry to learn, she was a skilled seamstress, quilter, knitter, birdwatcher and a Master Gardener through the Cornell Cooperative Extension. Dahlias were her specialty. A member of the Dahlia Society, her dinner plate-sized blooms won awards.

She loved walking, reading The New York Times and doing crossword, Sudoku and jigsaw puzzles. Her legendary Irish Soda Bread was rivaled by none, friends said. But her keenest skill of all was connecting people.

The family historian and matriarch, she was the conduit for communicating with relatives in Ireland. In her family, friendships, and volunteer work, she made everyone she touched feel better about themselves, leaving an enduring impact.

Faithful and giving to all, she offered her time, knowledge, patience and most of all, her everlasting love. She was forever positive, and among her strongly held beliefs was, “It’s easier to forgive than to remain angry.” Even in her final days, Callahan voiced her signature line, “You know, I’m learning something from all this!”

A service was held both in-person and virtually at Cecere Family Funeral Home in Baldwin on Jan. 28, and a funeral mass was held at Queen of the Most Holy Rosary Church in Roosevelt on Jan. 29.