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John Charles Calhoun

1941 - 2019
John Charles Calhoun

West Des Moines - John Charles Calhoun passed away peacefully on April 18, 2019, at age 77. John was born May 9, 1941, in Omaha, Nebraska and grew up in Mason City, Iowa. A natural athlete, he excelled in football, baseball, basketball and attended the University of Iowa as a Nile Kinnick Memorial Scholarship winner for football. He was a two-year letter winner for the Hawkeyes playing punter and quarterback, and proud member of the 1960 Big Ten Championship football team.

John earned his bachelor of science in civil engineering in 1964 and a master's (MSCE) degree in 1966 from the University of Iowa. While attending Iowa John met the love of his life, Camille Case. They were married on August 5, 1962 in Grinnell, Iowa. They have lived in West Des Moines since 1979 where they are members of the West Des Moines Christian Church.

A lifelong patriot, John served his country honorably. A Distinguished Military Graduate of the Army ROTC program, he was commissioned in the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers as a 2nd Lieutenant and served both stateside and in South Vietnam during the Vietnam war. He was later appointed and served as Iowa's Civilian Aide to the United States Secretary of the Army from 1987-1995, a position he was especially proud to fulfill. He also served as a national director of the Defense Orientation Conference Association (DOCA) and was selected by the Secretary of Defense as a participant for the 47th Joint Civilian Orientation Conference (JCOC)

John had a long and successful career in the field of engineering. He served as Madison County Engineer from 1972-1978, where he oversaw the care and maintenance of the roads and bridges. He founded his own consulting engineering business specializing in bridge, culvert, and highway design, which he managed and grew for over 25 years. Later known as Calhoun-Burns & Associates, his engineering firm was responsible for the design of over 2,000 bridges, roads and culverts throughout Iowa. As an engineer, John was active in numerous professional societies and organizations. He served as President of the Iowa Engineering Society, the Iowa Engineering Foundation, the Iowa Good Roads Association and the Iowa Chapter of the ASCE. He also taught engineering short courses, classes and seminars at The University of Iowa, Iowa State University, the Iowa Department of Transportation and the Iowa County Engineers Association. He served on advisory boards for the University of Iowa College of Engineering and the Iowa State University College of Engineering. He represented the College of Engineering on the University of Iowa Alumni Association Board of Directors.

After selling his business and retiring in 2006, John was able to devote more time to his diverse hobbies and interests. An avid outdoorsman and conservationist, John was a member of Ducks Unlimited, Pheasants Forever, and the National Wild Turkey Federation. He had a passion for hunting pheasants and waterfowl with family members in the fall, with his trusty black lab always at his side. This was rivaled only by his love of walleye fishing in Canada and northern Minnesota. Other hobbies included golf, travelling (to all 7 continents), model railroading, and collecting coins, stamps, and minerals. A voracious reader, John knew a lot about just about everything. And he wasn't afraid to tell you about it. While not always succinct, you could always count on his analysis being correct.

Perhaps his greatest attribute was his sense of giving and loyalty to his family, friends and the community. John made countless friends over the course of his life. Always generous, John was very active in many charitable and community organizations. He volunteered for the United Way and served on numerous committees for the City of West Des Moines, the West Des Moines Community School District and the Greater Des Moines Chamber of Commerce. John was especially dedicated to the University of Iowa as a student, athlete, and alumnus. This included serving as president of the National Iowa Varsity Club and member of the University of Iowa President's Club. John bled black and gold and was a football season ticket holder for over 50 years. He gave generously of his time and also financially to the University of Iowa College of Engineering and athletic programs.

Above all else, John loved his family. He was a strong family man who was devoted to Camille, his wife of more than 56 years, and to his son Mike, daughter Ann, and grandsons Brian and CJ. He loved gathering family members together for birthdays, holidays, and especially fishing trips to his beloved lake house on Leech Lake, Minnesota. The legacy of John's kind spirit, passion for sports, and zest for life will live on through them.

He is survived by his wife Camille; children Michael (Krisanne) Calhoun of West Des Moines and Ann (Mark) Spellman of Waukee; grandsons Brian and C.J. Spellman of Waukee; and brother Jay Calhoun. John was preceded in death by his parents Opal and John Calhoun and parents-in law Marjorie and Lyman Case.

John's family would like to extend special thanks to the doctors and nurses at Mayo Clinic, The Iowa Clinic, IMMC and to the wonderful home health team, all of whom fixed what was "fixable" and cared for him when things were "unfixable."

Visitation will be held Monday, April 22nd at 10 a.m. with a service following at 11:00 a.m. at the West Des Moines Christian Church, 4501 Mills Civic Parkway, West Des Moines, Iowa.

In lieu of flowers, memorial contributions may be directed to The University of Iowa Foundation, Unity Point Health Foundation or Pheasants Forever. Condolences may be may be expressed at
Published in Des Moines Register from Apr. 20 to Apr. 21, 2019
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