Donald Eugene Calhoun Jr.

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Calhoun, Jr. The Honorable Donald Eugene Calhoun, Jr. died at Kendal at Granville on February 8, 2014. Judge Calhoun was born in Columbus, Ohio on May 15, 1926. He was 87 years old. He was preceded in death by his parents Esther Cope Farnsworth and Donald E. Calhoun, Sr. and his grandparents Albert and Margaret Cope. He is survived by his wife, Shirley; and his children, Catherine, Donald III, and Elizabeth. He graduated from South High School. He served in the United States Navy from 1944-1946. During that time he was in the Navy Officer training program at John Carroll University and the University of Michigan. He returned to The Ohio State University where he obtained his Bachelor of Arts degree in Political Science in 1941 and his Juris Doctor from The Ohio State University College of Law in 1951. During his tenure at law school, he served as President of his senior class in the College of Law, and he served as President of the Delta Theta Phi Law Honorary Fraternity. Judge Calhoun began the practice of law upon admission to the bar in 1951. He practiced primarily in real estate, probate and corporate law. In 1968 he merged his practice and became a partner in Folkerth, Calhoun, Webster, Maurer and O'Brien. In the ensuing years, he developed a practice in public sector labor law, primarily with educational institutions. Judge Calhoun was very active in the American Arbitration Association and the Columbus Bar Association, serving as its President in 1967. He served as the Chairman, Real Estate Practices Committee, 1960-1961, Representative to United Community Council, Study of Health Agencies, elected to the Board of Governors in 1961 and was re-elected in 1963. Judge Calhoun was appointed to the federal bankruptcy bench in 1985. He served as a judge of the United States Bankruptcy Court for the Southern District of Ohio for twenty-three years (23), retiring at age 82. During his tenure, Judge Calhoun presided over scores of business bankruptcy cases, including the National Century Enterprises Chapter 11 proceeding, one of the largest and most complex cases ever filed in the Columbus bankruptcy court. He frequently wrote and spoke at legal seminars on the topics of ethics and professionalism, ideals that were the touchstone of his legal career. Judge Calhoun was widely respected as an outstanding jurist. Referred to by many attorneys as "the gentleman judge," Judge Calhoun exhibited a model judicial temperament and unmatched integrity. While Judge Calhoun gained high marks for his skillful handling of large, business bankruptcy cases, he found presiding over individual bankruptcy cases to be the most fulfilling part of his job. He was known for his empathy and compassion in the courtroom, taking great pride in the role he played in helping people truly in need overcome their financial difficulties and gain a fresh start. Judge Calhoun was very active in his community dedicating years to public service. He participated in the Columbus Junior Chamber of Commerce as a representative to the Chamber of Commerce Highway Committee from 1952 - 1956, Vice Chairman of Committee in 1955 - 1956, Director in 1956, and Vice President in 1957. During his tenure at the Junior Chamber of Commerce he received the Key-man Award in 1956 and was selected as one of the Ten Outstanding Young Men in 1957. He also received the Jaycee of the Year Award in 1958. Other civic activities included: Board of Directors, Pilot Dogs; Advisory Council For Senior Citizen's Center; Magnolia Lodge No. 20 F.&A.M.; Associate member of Big Brothers; participated in annual fund raising for the United Appeals; Chairman, City-wide Citizens' Committee for "Neighborhood Seminars on School Program and Finance". He spearheaded the Clintonville movement to block a Ford Plant and a railroad switching yard from being placed in the middle of that residential community. He was elected Ward Committeeman of the 21st Ward in 1962 and served for twenty-one (21) years. Judge Calhoun was passionate about ensuring the quality of Republican candidates elected to office. He served as President of the Four Ward Republican Club. One of his proudest accomplishments was being appointed to the Board of Education of the City of Columbus Schools in 1963 and elected to four (4) year terms in 1964 and 1968, serving nine (9) year. He was elected to two (2) terms as President in 1966 and 1970. He was influential in the process of desegregation of the educational system. Judge Calhoun was instrumental in the acquisition of Fort Hayes so that the Columbus Public Schools could open a technical high school. He mentored basketball players at East High School. He was legal counsel for the Columbus Institute of Technology (CTI) as it grew into Columbus State. He served as legal counsel for many educational institutions such as Capital University, Columbus State, Columbus Institute of Technology, Central Ohio Technical College, Hocking College and Otterbein University. Judge Calhoun was a Christian in his deeds and his acts. He was avid purveyor of social justice. Judge Calhoun was a lifelong member of the First Congregational Church in Columbus, Ohio. He served as a Sunday School Teacher, Youth Group Leader, Chairman, Ushers; Chairman Remembrance Fund; Chairman, Every Member Canvas; Assistant Chairman, Building Fund Drive; Deacon; Chairman, Activities Coordinating Committee; Chairman, Christian Educational Commission. In the wider United Church of Christ, he served as Moderator, Ohio Central Association of Congregational Christian Churches, Board of Trustees of The United Church of Christ at OSU; Chairman of Department of Budget and Finance, Ohio Council of Churches. He served on the Board of Homeland Ministries of the National Synod of Congregational Churches. Although Judge Calhoun was committed to the serious work of administering justice, he was a humble, modest man who never took himself too seriously. He will be remembered by his judicial colleagues, the entire court staff and the attorneys who practiced before him for his warm heart, quick wit and outstanding sense of humor. He was also passionate about gardening and his family and his children. A Memorial Service will be held on Saturday, February 22, 2014 at 1 p.m. at the First Congregational Church, 444 East Broad Street, Columbus, Ohio 43215. The Family will receive guests at 12:30 p.m. prior to the service. A reception will follow the Service in the Parish Hall. Judge Calhoun was committed to justice, ethics and legal education. In lieu of flowers, contributions can be made to the Donald E. Calhoun Jr. Fund for Legal Aid and Education at the Columbus Foundation, 1234 E. Broad Street, Columbus, Ohio 43205-1453, or

Published in The Columbus Dispatch on Feb. 16, 2014
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