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Born: March 21, 1917

Death: November 29, 2012

This memorial provided by:
Texarkana Funeral Home, Texas
Texarkana, TX

John Calhoun, Jr.

March 21, 1917  -  November 29, 2012
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Life Legacy

John C. Calhoun, Jr.

On Thursday, November 29, 2012, John C. Calhoun, Jr. passed peacefully from this life to the next at his Texarkana home. He was with his wife of seventy-one years and family.

Dr. Calhoun was born March 21, 1917 in Betula, PA, the fifth child of John C. and Mattie Rowe Calhoun. His childhood was filled with music, learning, and family teamwork, as all eight children worked to support their family grocery.

After skipping two grades of public school, he graduated valedictorian and headed to Penn State University, where he achieved his doctorate as one of the first three petroleum engineers in the United States.

While at Penn State, he met his future wife, fellow student Ruth Elizabeth Huston, whom he married on June 10, 1941. Four children followed, as well as moves across the country as Dr. Calhoun pursued a career in higher education at the University of Oklahoma, Penn State, and for over four decades -- from 1955 until his retirement -- Texas A&M University.

Dr. Calhoun held numerous administrative positions at Texas A&M. He began there as Dean of the School of Engineering; for many others years was integral to leading academic program development for the College Station campus and for the A&M system, as Vice-President for Academic Affairs, and subsequently as Vice Chancellor for Programs. He took a two-year leave of absence to serve in Washington, D.C., as Science Advisor to Secretary of the Interior Stuart Udall in the early1960s.

Dr. Calhoun traveled widely, consulting internationally with governments and international organizations on resource management and education. He was elevated to national leadership positions in a variety of professional engineering associations, and was honored many times over by his peers at all levels of service. Dr. Robert Able, the first director of the National Sea Grant Office once said “He is one of the truly great science administrators in our country... [with] tremendous breadth of vision.” At Dr. Calhoun's retirement celebration, he was called the best educator in the state of Texas.

No award or honor mattered as much to him as did his family. Foregoing the more usual hobbies, he proudly asserted that his hobby was his four granddaughters.

He joyfully shared with others the gifts of music, a love of words and learning, and the importance of family. How precious are the memories of his beautiful baritone renderings of everything from lullabies to Broadway musicals, from the sacred to the secular - whether in solo, or in harmony with siblings. He knew that life is lacking “without a song,” and he wrote many songs that he dedicated to his grandchildren.

Dr. Cahoun was preceded in death by his son, John Huston, his seven brothers and sisters, and his parents. He is survived by three daughters and their spouses: Emily Calhoun and Robert Kerr of Boulder, CO, Mary Beth and Larry Towles of Maryville, TN, and Ruth Ellen and David Whitt, of Texarkana, TX, as well as by four granddaughters, their spouses, and nine great-grandchildren. The tenth great grandchild, to be named John, is due December 5th. Also surviving are numerous nieces and nephews around the country who loved their “Uncle Johnny.”

The family would like to especially thank Dr. Jerry Stringfellow, his staff and the many caring medical personnel who worked valiantly to ease his final months, as well as Jeanne Baker and the generous and compassionate caregivers from Cornerstone Home Health, women who surely are destined for heaven!

In his retirement, Dr. Calhoun wrote many "memories" of his childhood. In one, he recalled the text of a hymn that remained with him over the years, words that were sung to close Sunday evening family worship: “If I have wounded any soul today, if I have caused one foot to go astray, if I have walked in mine own willful way, Dear Lord, Forgive.” That was the spirit of this father and grandfather, who devoted his life to his family and to others.

Although given many offers over the years to work in industry at many times his academic salary, Dr. Calhoun felt his greater interests lay with the university, to advance knowledge and to interact with younger learners. For anyone who wishes to honor his memory and legacy in engineering education, contributions may be directed to TAMU Foundation in Memory of Dr. John C. Calhoun, Jr., Engineering Development Office, 214 Zachry Engineering Center, College Station, TX 77843-3126.

The family will receive friends at Texarkana Funeral Home, Texas from 2:30 to 4:00 P.M. Sunday.

Graveside services at College Station Cemetery will be scheduled at a later date.