James Calhan Profile Photo
1933 James 2023

James Calhan

October 11, 1933 — February 23, 2023

James Richard Calhan, the son of George and Hildegarde (Coyne) Calhan, was born October 11, 1933, in Estherville, Iowa, and departed this life on February 23, 2023.

Jim grew up on the family farm east of Estherville and as a young boy would often walk to the Estherville Municipal Airport to watch the planes, developing a lifelong love of aviation.  He received his formative education in Gruver, Iowa, graduating from Gruver High School in 1951.  Following high school he attended and graduated from Estherville Junior College.  Jim worked on the Calhan family farm and was also employed by the Rock Island Railroad in Estherville.  He loved sharing stories of his farming and railroad days.

Jim enlisted in the United States Navy in 1955.  He was a naval aviator and instructor, flying various aircraft from land bases and aircraft carriers, including the USS Kitty Hawk.  Jim served four tours in the Vietnam War, receiving four Bronze Stars.  His first tour began in 1964.  Following his retirement from the Navy in June of 1977, as a Lieutenant Commander, he was employed by McDonnell Douglas Aircraft Corporation, which later became Boeing Aircraft, based out of Long Beach, California.  For 22 years, Jim served as a test pilot and would deliver large aircraft, primarily MD-80’s and DC-10’s around the world, conducting training for pilots lasting several months at a time.  During his flying career he traveled to every major continent, except Antarctica, and landed at nearly all major airports in the world.  Jim made friends wherever he went.

Jim retired from flying and from Boeing in August of 1999.  He spent many years at his home in Los Alamitos, California, enjoying the companionship of his former military and corporate friends, sharing stories and memories.  He was a member of St. Patrick’s Catholic Church in Estherville for many years.

During the last few years, Jim enjoyed living with his niece, Susan Fuhrman Anderson and family in Minnesota.

Jim is survived by one brother, Leo Calhan and his wife, Joan, of Oak Brook Illinois; and many nieces and nephews.  He has been preceded in death by his parents; sister, Bernadene Fuhrman; brother, Michael; sister, Frances Murphy; and brother, Robert.

Family graveside services at East Side Cemetery in Estherville will be held at a later date.

To order memorial trees or send flowers to the family in memory of James Calhan, please visit our flower store.

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