Callas was a good guy with class, humility

June 20, 2004|By JOHN LEAGUE

Years ago when I was in college, I went to hear a relatively well-known football player speak to a student gathering. During the question-and-answer period, he was asked what he'd want written on his tombstone as his final remembrance. Without hesitation, he said, "Here rests a good guy."

I don't know why that answer stuck with me for more than 30 years, but it has.

Perhaps it was the absence of self-importance, or the absence of arrogance found in so many celebrities and people who view themselves as important. Or maybe it was the simplicity of the thought: Shouldn't we all, as civilized people, strive to be good?

Whatever it was, I thought of it again several weeks ago when Mike Callas died unexpectedly.

There are but a handful of people like Mike Callas in the community. Mike jumped behind many a charitable cause. The United Way, the Boy Scouts and the Hagerstown-Washington County Free Library quickly come to mind, though there are many others.


He was a champion of the importance of education and involved with reading and literacy efforts.

Mike would not only write a check to support a cause, he'd roll up his sleeves and do the heavy lifting.

In recent years, he co-chaired an effort to lead a strategic planning process for Washington County Public Schools. He was a past president of the United Way, and a past president of the Greater Hagerstown Committee. All of those posts required a tremendous commitment of time, energy, endurance and patience.

Mike was 83 when he died over Memorial Day weekend. I dare say, he took on more volunteer and charitable causes between the age of 80 and his death than many of us do our entire working lives. He did all of this while remaining involved in his business, Callas Contractors, and fighting health problems.

Mike Callas was a dynamic force for good in our community. He stepped up to the plate, when the spotlight was on and when it wasn't. He made Hagerstown and Washington County a better place to be.

When I was a kid, my mother tried to teach my sisters and me to act with humility and class. If and when we have failed to do so, it wasn't the teacher's fault.

Looking back, I think my mother had someone like Mike Callas in mind.

What I admired as much as anything about Mike was that he comported himself as a gentleman. He was a man of humility and class.

"A good guy."

That's what separated him from the rest of us, the final bit of polish on his star.

John League is editor and publisher of The Herald-Mail. He may be reached at 301-733-5131, ext. 7073, or by e-mail at

The Herald-Mail Articles