Michael Francis Callaghan was born on October 4, 1932 in Omaha, Nebraska to Dr. Ambrose James (AJ) Callaghan and his wife Margaret “Pud” Fitzgerald Callaghan. His middle name is after St. Francis because October 4th is known as the feast of St. Francis. He often contemplated the prayer of St.Francis and even had a plaque with it hanging on his wall.
He was the youngest of 4 kids: his brothers Ted and Pat and his sister Joyce. There was a big age difference between him and his older siblings (Ted was 13 years older, Joyce was 12 years older, Pat was 6 years older) so he was the baby of the family. He was born during the midst of the Great Depression but he always said he hadn’t felt it as much as his older brothers and sister due in part to the age difference. His father Ambrose James/AJ Callaghan was a doctor and after quite a few moves around Iowa and Nebraska before settling in North Platte Nebraska where Mike spent the majority of his childhood and teenage years. While growing up, Mike loved hunting especially hunting pheasants.
He graduated in 1950 from North Platte High School. In high school, he played basketball and football and was elected All State End in 1949. He was voted Homecoming King and his dear friend Janet Landstrom was voted Homecoming Queen. He graduated from high school at age 16 and was accepted to Creighton University in Omaha, Nebraska (his father’s alma mater.
At Creighton, he completed his undergrad requirements and was accepted to Creighton Medical School. During the summer, he worked on the railroad and did other odd jobs to make extra money. After Creighton, he did his residency in St. Louis. His dad encouraged him to do further training at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester Minnesota. He was there circa 1960-61 when he learned that he had not been exempt from his military service as he had previously thought and was scheduled to go to Fort Ord, Monterey. He started complaining to one of his supervising doctors at the Mayo Clinic to which the supervising doctor replied, “Monterey? Let’s switch places!” Dad soon learned that Monterey was home to world class golf. He never really talked much about army life and I don’t think it was a big part of his identity, but he always had an affinity for Monterey.
Mike met Monique Bouchard who was from Marseille, France and was in Monterey visiting her cousins Suzanne Jaggers and Marianne Montvernay. They were married in August 1962. Eventually, they settled in Orange County. first in Santa Ana and later in Laguna Niguel. They had 5 children together: Colleen, Maureen, Michael, Sheila and Bridget. Mike and Monique did divorce in 1982 but later they were able to remain on good terms and were always very friendly to one another. Monique visited him often in his last days and this brought Mike much comfort.
Mike established his orthopedic practice in Tustin and worked at hospitals such as Tustin Hospital and Western Medical Center. He always took pride in his work and stayed up to date on all the latest developments. He was a board certified hand surgeon. In 1972, he volunteered with the World Health Organization and worked in Indonesia for 6 weeks.
In January 1968, Mike had the good fortune to find support and camaraderie through AA. It helped him stop drinking and he had 48 years of sobriety. His AA birthday happened to be around Super Bowl Sunday which came to become his defacto date for celebrating his sobriety. He took great comfort in the Serenity Prayer. Thank you to his AA friends who are here today or with us in spirit.
Mike loved golf and was a long time member of El Niguel Country Club. At his best, he had a scratch handicap and also got a Hole in One. He played in a Pro-Am tournament and was paired up with Arnold Palmer.
Mike loved hunting pheasant and duck, Western art, travel, watching college basketball and football, and he was always proud of his Irish heritage.
He loved fine dining and always loved to try different ethnic cuisine. He always encouraged his kids to try new foods. In fact, one of his last restaurant outings was to an Indian restaurant, just days before his decline. In honor of this, the Callaghan kids have planned a marvelous lunch reception with various ethnic foods and other delicious fare. Our guests will really have a wonderful time and this will be a party Mike would have wanted to attend. He will be so happy to know that we are enjoying ourselves in his honor.
Mike is survived by his 5 children and their families: Colleen Callaghan (Lake Forest); Maureen Callaghan Kinney (Lake Forest); Michael Francis Callaghan, Jr. (Laguna Niguel); Sheila Callaghan Elliott (Rancho Palos Verdes); Bridget Callaghan Zaro (Bainbridge Island, Washington). He is survived by 9 grandchildren.
In addition, Michael is survived by Judy Callaghan, wife of Pat Callaghan, of Williamsburg, Virginia; as well as many nieces and nephews and their families: Mary Joyce Callaghan Capobianco and her family (Des Moines, Iowa) Meagan Callaghan(Des Moines, Iowa); Karen Callaghan Nold (Atlanta, Georgia); Dr. Earl “Skip” Carstensen (Denver, Colorado); Margeret “Peggy” Carstensen Hughes (Spokane, Washington); Tim Carstensen (North Platte, Nebraska); Shawn Callaghan Diaz (Port Chester, New York); and Reagan Callaghan (Conway, South Carolina).
Mike was preceded in death by his parents, Ambrose James “AJ” Callaghan, Margaret “Pud” Fitzgerald Callaghan of North Platte, Nebraska; his brother Ambrose James “Ted” Callaghan, II and his wife Marie Callaghan of Sioux City, Iowa; his brother James Patrick “Pat” Callaghan, of Williamsburg, Virginia; his sister Joyce CallaghanCarstensen of North Platte, Nebraska; and a niece Kathleen “Kathy” Callaghan Payre (Boise, Idaho).
Mike wasn’t one to worry about the formalities of life. If you have a favorite charity, feel free to make a donation in his name. However, he would probably like it just as much if you played a round of golf, went to a nice restaurant, or took a nice trip and thought of him.
The Callaghan children and their families thank you for your presence here today and appreciate all your kindness. To those who were not able to be here with us today, we thank you for keeping Mike in your thoughts and prayers. We are so overwhelmed by everyone’s thoughtfulness and thank you again from the bottom of our hearts.
Obituary courtesy of Tributes.com.