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Thread: A true legend. Capt. Cal Calhoun. Had the privilege of raising a glass with him a few

  1. #1
    JEK is offline
    Senior Insider Joined: Jan 2004 In the ether . . . Posts: 55,585

    A true legend. Capt. Cal Calhoun. Had the privilege of raising a glass with him a few

    Obituary for Charles Calhoun, II

    Charles Raymond Calhoun, II was born 10-9-1913 and died peacefully at Lower Cape Fear Hospice, Wilmington, NC at age 101 on August 29, 2015. Born in Philadelphia, Pa to father Charles Raymond Calhoun, Sr and mother, Lucy Brewer. He had one older sibling: sister, Margaret (Peg) who preceeded him in death.

    Known to close friends and family as Ray", Cal", or "Captain", Cal spent his childhood in a tough neighborhood of Philly known as Fishtown". He was frequently bullied on his way to and from school and learned early in life how to win a fistfight. Cal came from a long line of seagoing men. His father was a licensed master mariner. His father's career included commanding ferry boats to pilot ships on the Delaware River into and out of port. He owned a commercial cargo shipping business which took him all over the world. The outbreak of WWI brought him to active duty in the US Naval Reserve force as a Lt. Cmdr.

    While serving in France, Cal's father was accidentally killed while supervising the unloading of a cargo of supplies for American troops. It was his father's life example and his death that set the course for this young boy, then only age 5. From his father's death Raymond Jr. received an automatic nomination to any of the US Military Service Academies. From that early age, the young boy knew he would choose the Naval Academy at Annapolis, MD.

    Without a father, Cal lived in an all-female household with his grandmother, mother and sister. Cal's mother made arrangements to have him spend time with male role models: a blacksmith, a fireman, a doctor – all who possessed a strong work ethic, traditional values and were willing to mentor a young boy.

    Cal spent every summer as a boy at Treasure Island Boy Scout Camp, located in the Delaware River. After graduating from Franklin High School, Cal attended Valley Forge Military Academy. There he forged lifelong friendships, worked on building up muscle playing football there and aspiring to play football for Navy at the Academy, which he did.

    The following fall, Cal entered the US Naval Academy at Annapolis, MD. The Academy's traditions, education and character building environment produced a newly commissioned Ensign in the US Navy equipped with outstanding leadership skills in addition to the fierce loyalty to our country that was already there. Over the next 30 years of his naval career, Cal served aboard destroyers while at sea and on shore was assigned to the Pentagon, US Naval Forces in Europe (HQ in London), the National War College (Washington, DC) first as a student – later as faculty. His career took him to all of the 7 seas. He was the recipient of a Purple Heart, Bronze Star, Presidential Unit Citation (Cuban Missile Crisis, President Kennedy) and Legion of Merit Award.

    From Gunnery Officer on the destroyer USS Sterett, where the mission was to offer cover fire for a US beach landing at Guadalcanal and an enemy attack by Japanese planes was fiercely fought and won, to Commander of a Squadron of destroyers sent to intercept nuclear missiles coming out of Cuba, Cal loved every second of his naval career. "Join the Navy and see the world" was a promise made and kept.

    After retiring from the Navy, Cal went to the University of Minnesota to create and lead a Management Development program. While in that position, then Minnesota Governor Levander presented him with the Legion of Merit Award, bestowed by the President of the United States, for his contributions to curriculum development at the National War College while serving as a faculty member there. Turning down a full military parade that had been offered while still in the Washington, DC area, was in keeping with Cal's humility.

    Following his position at the University of Minnesota, Cal joined the MN State University System leadership as Vice Chancellor for Planning and Development. There he determined need, developed and presented plans for building additions or expansions to the MN State Legislature for funding approval.

    Finally retiring from the 9-5 workday, Cal turned to one of his deep passions – writing. Tin Can Sailor and Typhoon:the Other Enemy were published by the Naval Institute Press. Passionate about naval history, Cal's next project was to be a book about the Civil War Blockade Runners. Research led him to NC's Cape Fear Region, where he finally put down permanent roots: first on Oak Island, then Wilmington, Laurinburg and finally, Wilmington again. Cal's stories live on through his written words and through multiple video interviews with the History Channel (Oliver North and others) about his WWII experiences, the great Typhoon, Cobra in 1944, as well as the Cuban Missile Crisis. In addition, distressed over the destruction of so many homes in Florida's Hurricane Andrew, Cal collaborated with a former colleague (Architect, Laszlo Fulop) to co- write his final book. The Hurricanes are Coming gives homeowners instructions on how to afterfit a home to prevent roof loss in extreme winds.

    Along the way, Cal met, fell in love and married – TWICE. First married to Virginia Elizabeth Taylor, from Winston Salem, NC in 1940, Cal and "Ginny" had two children: a son, Charles Raymond Calhoun III, who died at the age of 10, and a daughter, Susan Walker (Calhoun) Cosentino, still living. In 1984, wife Virginia passed away while visiting their Wisconsin lake home. Two years later Cal found love again and married Elizabeth Dunne. "Betsy" and Cal lived first on Oak Island, then in Wilmington and finally to Scotia Village in Laurinburg. Cal and Betsy made a pilgrimage to Medjugouri, a trip that had a lasting spiritual effect on both. Sadly, Betsy passed away in 2010.

    Susan and her husband, Mark, moved to Wilmington from Minnesota in the Fall of 2010. The last 5 years were precious, finally able to spend time together that had been lost over the years.

    Cal will be remembered for: the great storyteller he was, for his cool head in the face of crisis , his kind and gentle spirit, his ability to make people feel good just knowing him; his love of music – especially when he sang the "oldies". He will be remembered for his compassion for others demonstrated by his generosity to literally hundreds of charities, causes and individuals. He will be remembered for his willingness to temporarily set aside his dignity in order to wear silly hats in public, to play practical jokes, to love unabashedly his precious dog, Sam, who was more human than canine. He will be remembered for his honesty and integrity, his dedication to his country and the ever present American flag on his lapel. He was the perfect example of " an Officer and a Gentleman", and we will NEVER forget him.

    Cal is survived by daughter, Susan & son in law, Mark, of Wilmington, NC; Granddaughters Michelle, Allison and Gina and their spouses; Great granddaughters Rebecca, Jasmine, Norah, Kenzie, Sophie and Ellie, all of Minnesota; and dear family friend, Krista of Wilmington, NC.

    Memorial donations may be made to the Navy Memorial in Washington, DC; the US Naval Academy Foundation; the Heritage Foundation, the Church of St. Mary in Laurinburg, NC and Lower Cape Fear Hospice in Wilmington, NC.

    - See more at:
    The Marius 100th Birthday Party Memorial -- June 5, 2023

  2. #2
    katva is offline
    SBH Insider Joined: Nov 2009 Posts: 4,764
    Wow. What a bio. It's inspiring to read about such lives. I've become very familiar with the USNA lately.
    If you're the smartest person in the room, you're in the wrong room :)

  3. #3
    JEK is offline
    Senior Insider Joined: Jan 2004 In the ether . . . Posts: 55,585
    Here he was in 2007 at the christening of the 4th USS STERETT DDG 104 in Bath, Maine. Capt. Cal served on the 2nd USS STERETT DD 407 in WWII. Capt George Sullivan (left) and I served on the 3rd USS STERETT DLG 31.

    Geo & Commodore Calhoun.jpg
    The Marius 100th Birthday Party Memorial -- June 5, 2023

  4. #4
    amyb is offline
    SBH Insider Joined: Apr 2008 Glen Cove,L. I., NY Posts: 28,666
    That necktie says so much about his life. A loss of a special man. They don't make too many like him.
    Remember Yesterday, Dream About Tomorrow, But Live Today.

  5. #5
    AndreaR is offline
    SBH Member Joined: Apr 2015 Oak Island, NC Posts: 17

  6. #6
    NYCFred is offline
    SBH Insider Joined: Jan 2004 NYC Posts: 17,596
    Old school. Bet he knew how to use a sextant, too.

    Neutral and Witty.

  7. #7
    cassidain is offline
    SBH Insider Joined: Jul 2007 Ailleurs Posts: 7,939
    the real deal
    Fils du Sud - Roi des Fils Verrouillés

    If I can't wear my Havaianas, I ain't goin'...ÀMHA

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