Former state Supreme Court Chief Justice Robert J. Callahan died Tuesday, Jan. 1, 2013.
Callahan, a Norwalk resident, began serving in 1985. He retired in 1999 after having served as Chief Justice for three years. He was 82 at the time of his passing.
He had been both a prosecutor and judge for both the Norwalk Superior Court and Circuit Court systems.
On his passing, Chief Justice Chase T. Rogers released the following statement:
"This is truly a sad day for the judiciary in Connecticut. We have lost one of the greatest judges this state has ever had and the entire Judicial Branch mourns former Chief Justice Callahan’s passing.
He was a hardworking, diligent judge who did not think of cases as 'big' or 'small.' What mattered most to him is that the case was important to the parties. This is a philosophy that he embodied and one that he passed along to countless judges who had the pleasure of working with him throughout the years.
During his nearly 15 years on the Connecticut Supreme Court as an associate Justice and then as Chief Justice, Justice Callahan authored hundreds of opinions, many of which have had a tremendous impact on Connecticut law.
Additionally, Justice Callahan was a consummate gentleman who was patient and a good listener. He was truly beloved by everyone with whom he worked and many people sought him out for his counsel and wisdom. It is worth noting that he had a wonderful sense of humor and an unsurpassed ability of helping to put things into perspective.
Justice Callahan also had his priorities straight—his family mattered most to him. On behalf of the Judicial Branch, I want to extend our sympathy to his wife, children, grandchildren and extended family.
He will be missed."
'Leadership skills and humor'
Governor Dannel P. Malloy also weighed in on the passing of the state's 34th Chief Justice.
"Chief Justice Callahan made a lasting impact in Connecticut, serving nearly fifteen years on the Supreme Court and authoring hundreds of opinions that have had a profound impact on the laws of our state," Malloy said. "Through my own experience both as an attorney and in public service, I’ve witnessed firsthand his dedication, integrity, and intellect. His leadership skills and humor guided the court through several difficult cases, always with honest reasoning and judgment. My condolences go out to his family, friends and colleagues in the judicial branch."
Callahan was born on June 3, 1930 and graduated from Norwalk High School in 1948 as President of his class. He attended Boston College on a football scholarship, graduating in 1952. Bob was recruited by the Chicago Bears and played their exhibition season. He returned to Norwalk and attended Fordham University Law School, where he graduated in 1955. He opened a legal practice above his father’s plumbing shop with his brother, Gene, and his life-long friend, Thomas A. Flaherty. Bob married Dorothy Trudel on January 24, 1959.
Prosecutor, elected official in Norwalk
Callahan worked as a prosecutor and served on the Norwalk Common Council before being appointed to the Circuit Court bench in 1970. In 1976, he was recognized as one of Connecticut’s top ten judges.
In 1985, was appointed Callahan to the Connecticut Supreme Court and then Chief Justice in 1996. He became a senior judge in late 1999 and, at age 76, returned to the Superior Court bench to try serious criminal cases. He also presided at Stamford Superior Court.
Callahan is survived by his wife Dorothy (Trudel), his eight children, their spouses and grandchildren.
Calling hours will be at the Magner Funeral Home, 12 Mott Ave. in Norwalk on Sunday, Jan. 6 from 3 p.m. to 7 p.m. A Mass of Christian burial will be held at St. Jerome’s Church on 23 Half Mile Rd. on Jan. 7 at 11:00 a.m.
Callahan's full obituary can be viewed here.