MBA Past President John M. Callahan dies at 83

Thursday, Feb. 27, 2020
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Massachusetts Bar Association Past President John M. Callahan

It is with a heavy heart that the Massachusetts Bar Association announces the passing of Past President John M. Callahan, a South Hadley resident who led the MBA during its 1987-88 membership year. Callahan died on Feb. 18 at the age of 83. 

As president of the MBA, Callahan helped launch a statewide program aimed at easing access to legal services for senior citizens and formed the MBA’s Committee on Lawyers' Public Service Responsibility. He also established the Lawyers for Literacy Task Force, through which MBA members volunteered to tutor people struggling with reading comprehension, and lobbied for greater state and federal investment in legal services. 

Prior to his election as president, Callahan chaired the MBA Task Force on the Study of Indigent Defense Programs in Massachusetts, whose recommendations led to the institution of the Bar Advocate Program now administered by the Committee for Public Counsel Services. Callahan went on to chair the MBA Commission on Criminal Justice Attorney Compensation, and its 1994 report became a model for future efforts to secure higher salaries for prosecutors, public defenders and bar advocates.

Outside of the MBA, Callahan served as president of the Hampshire County Bar Association from 1982-83.

In his professional career, Callahan worked from 1968 to 2006 as a partner in the law firm of Growhoski, Callahan & Kuzmeski (formerly Growhoski, Callahan, Miles, Howard & Kundl). A veteran of the U.S. Marines, Callahan previously served in the Office of General Counsel for the CIA, as an assistant U.S. attorney in Boston, and as district attorney for the Northwestern District.

"In a lifetime of service to the Massachusetts legal community, John Callahan was defined by his incredible generosity and passionate interest in helping others," said MBA Chief Legal Counsel and Chief Operating Officer Martin W. Healy. "John had a genuine concern for the needs of his attorney peers and fellow citizens, and his career offers an example to any lawyer who aspires to make a difference in society. We extend our sincere condolences to John’s family and know that his memory will live on in the many important programs he worked to establish."

The funeral Mass will be Saturday, Feb. 29, at 10 a.m., at St. Patrick's Church, 30 Main St., South Hadley. Czelusniak Funeral Home of Northampton is assisting the family.

In lieu of flowers, donations in John's memory are suggested to the charity of your choice, the Alzheimer's Association or the Massachusetts Bar Foundation.