William Callaghan

Obituary of William Callaghan

Bill Callaghan passed away the first weekend in January from non-Covid viral pneumonia. It was ironic that, after getting three shots of Pfizer’s Covid vaccine, he got a non-Covid infection. Bill was in some senses a peripatetic soul, and his life and his academic mind led him to many jobs and places. He was born in Detroit, Michigan, the son of Claude M. Callaghan and Esther Gill Callaghan. His father was on the police force there but took early retirement and the family moved to Pleasant Home, Kentucky, and their family farm when Bill was 11. That was an eye-opener for a city boy, but he loved it, and he and his younger brother Doug, along with their cousin George, spent many happy hours riding horses and working on the farm. In high school, Bill spent summers working in a cheese-making facility, and then he entered the University of Kentucky, where he expected to study to become either a doctor or a minister. However, the Korean War intervened. Bill enlisted in the Army and was able to enter the Army Language School in Monterey, California, where he studied intensive Korean. In one year he was posted to Korea as an interpreter. He delighted in Korea. He was posted to Uijeong Bu (the site of M.A.S.H. episodes) and spent his hours in a cave listening to North Korean radio broadcasts. Off-duty time was spent learning about the culture of Korea. When he completed his Army stint, he went to San Francisco. There he met Evelyn Steele, and they were married. He took a variety of jobs, including one which required him to bake pies in a kiosk on the Pacific Ocean waterfront. They had two children, Claudia Louise and James Hugh, before pulling up stakes and heading back to Kentucky, where Bill completed his B.A. degree at the University. Language and literature study continued to pull him, and when he received an NDEA scholarship to continue in graduate school, the family moved again to Seattle, Washington. At this point, he started studying Japanese as well as continuing with Korean. He received the M.A. degree in Korean, but along the way was divorced from Evelyn. A new opportunity opened at this point. He was offered a Ford Foundation-sponsored position as a teacher of Japanese at Franklin High School and accepted. He spent three years at Franklin and also spent time courting Emily Kaiser (daughter of Robert and Eileen Kaiser of Bellingham), whom he had met in a Japanese class at the University of Washington. Bill and Emily were married in 1959. Time for another move! Bill was accepted by the University of Washington School of Law Japanese program. He studied there with Dan Henderson and when he received his J.D., took a position as a “legal trainee” in Japan with the law firm Adachi, Miyatake, and Fujita. (Later Adachi, Miyatake, Fujita, and Henderson.). After three years with Adachi, he continued with a second firm while simultaneously teaching at Sophia University. But teaching was calling. Bill went to teach Japanese to high school students at the American School in Japan (ASIJ). Here he made many new friends among colleagues and students. However, once again he needed to move on, and after four years at ASIJ he took Emily and their two children, Thomas MacTavish and Megan Antonia, to Osaka and the Kansai University of Foreign Studies. At last, he had found a long-term home. He stayed at Kansai Gaidai (Japanese name) for 20 years. He taught Japanese Business and Marketing and counted among his student's people from all continents (except Antarctica) in the exchange program operated by the school. These students went on to join Japanese and international companies and to form their own businesses. He was so proud of them! Bill devoted a great deal of his life to nurturing young people and encouraging them to experience and enjoy what they could of the world in which they found themselves. When he retired, he moved to Bellingham, Washington, so that his wife, Emily, could be near her parents. He kept in touch with friends from his many years roving the U.S. and Asia. No funeral services are planned. He will be interred in Bellingham later in the spring. He is survived by Emily, all four children, and their families. He was predeceased by his two brothers, Douglas and Terence, and his first wife, Evelyn. Please sign the Book of Memories, light a candle, and leave your condolences for the family at www.JernsFH.com
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