Robert J. Callahan, 82, Former State Supreme Court Chief Justice

Robert J. Callahan, 82, passed away Tuesday, Jan. 1, 2013.

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."

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.

Callahan worked as a prosecutor and served on the Norwalk City 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.

Dr. Robin Appleby January 06, 2013 at 11:31 PM
Judge Callahan was a football star at Norwalk High School. About 18 years ago, Norwalk High School started a wall of honor with 10 of their most illustrious graduates. They included Judge Callahan. Also on the wall was John Mcgrath...Medal of Honor in WW11 and Daniel Shea (who I knew in NHS)...Medal of Honor from Vietnam (both given posthumously). Also Calvin Murphy, the basketball great, the finest natural athelete I have ever known. Edward Kendall, of Norwalk High, received the Nobel Prize in 1950 for Medicine/physiology for discovering Thryroxin and Cortisol. They included Grace Gorham, the first woman obstetrician. She told me that the male doctors weren't too happy to have a woman. In the old days, the family doctors did the deliveries and the general surgeons came in for the (rare..about 5 %) Cesarian sections. When the general surgeons discovered that they could stay home in bed and Dr. Gorham would come in and do the C Section.....they started liking her. ....and my father Dr. Robert Appleby. He started a free Pediatric clinic that had 5500 children...so every child could have quality medical care unrelated to parents' ability to pay. He built 280 non profit housing units (at about half the price) so young families could afford a home. He also built dozens of Christian churches in India and started the 4 School based health clinics in Norwalk. Not too bad a record for a poor High School.
Dr. Robin Appleby January 07, 2013 at 01:00 PM
It was late into the night at the Delivery Room at Norwalk Hospital. I had just delivered the baby of Judge Callahan's daughter and her husband. The couple wanted to call Judge Callahan and his wife and tell them the good news but they didn't know the phone number. I asked where he was and they started laughing.......they said, "He is staying at your summer house on Block Island." Robert Callahan will be remembered as a really decent and nice guy and a good and honest and hardworking judge.


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