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Helen Callahan of Mineola: Churchgoer, golfer and mom, always on the go

Helen Callahan walked a mile and a half

Helen Callahan walked a mile and a half to church every morning and was an avid golfer. Credit: Jim Callahan

Helen Marie Callahan woke up each morning and walked a mile and a half from her longtime Mineola home to Our Lady of Hope Catholic Church in Carle Place. Morning Mass was not to be missed, and she didn’t need to hop in a car to get there either. Callahan would take her rosary ring and say the Catholic prayer series three times on her way, praying the Hail Mary nearly 160 times

“She could tell if her pace was good by how many rosaries she did,” said son Richard Callahan, 61, of Texas.

Helen Callahan, who lived in Mineola for over 65 years, died May 31 from complications of COVID-19 at Sunrise of Dix Hills assisted living facility. She was 94 and also suffered from Alzheimer’s disease, her family said.

Staying active was a major part of Callahan’s life. When her four sons suggested slowing down a little, she demurred. She was a "doer" who had places to be. One of those places was the Mineola Memorial Library, where Callahan and her husband of 65 years, James, would often walk. Occasionally, the two would walk to the Shelter Rock Public Library in Albertson, nearly four miles away from their house.

The couple also were avid golfers. They took up the sport late in life and would play nine-hole courses around Nassau County multiple times per week.

“My father got very frustrated with the game,” said son Jim Callahan Jr., 68, of East Meadow. “My mother didn’t take it that seriously. She didn’t try to kill the ball. She just would hit it straight, but not far, maybe about 70 yards.”

On her 80th birthday, Callahan rode her bike around Mineola one final time before donating it. A few years later, her and a friend walked in the Mineola Mustang 5K and completed the course in one hour and one minute, despite making a wrong turn. 

Born Aug. 23, 1925, in Queens, Callahan grew up in St. Albans. She attended Jamaica High School, leaving before graduation to work in the Manhattan corporate offices of J.C. Penney department stores. She moved with her husband to Mineola in 1950 and stayed in the same house until December of 2014, when the couple moved to Sunrise of Dix Hills.

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Callahan paused her career to raise a family but later worked in the admitting office at Winthrop Hospital in Mineola.

In addition to her sons Jim and Richard, Callahan is survived by sons, Michael Callahan of Mineola and Brian Callahan of Massapequa; sister, Marie McAuliffe of Franklin Square; eight grandchildren; and 12 great-grandchildren. Her husband died in 2015.

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