Jimmie Hal “Jim” Calhoon MD, 80, passed away on Tuesday, Dec. 28, 2010 in the San Juan Islands of Washington state after a courageous 50-year battle with type 1 diabetes. He found comfort and care from Dr. Tony Giefer and the Orcas Medical Center staff, from the wonderful team of islander caregivers, as well as devoted hospice and EMS workers.
Jim was the sixth child born in Beaver, Oklahoma on Sept. 24, 1930 in the midst of the Dust Bowl era to Walter Lee and Wina Rae Latta Calhoon. Walter and Wina Rae had traveled with a horse and a wagon from Woodward, Oklahoma to the farm along Cottonwood Creek in 1912. Their first two sons were born in a dugout on the side of the creek before Walter poured their concrete-walled house.
Having received a BS from Northwestern State College in Alva, Oklahoma (1952), Jim attended the University of Oklahoma School of Medicine, Oklahoma City, graduating in 1956. He completed his internship and general surgery residency at Hillcrest Medical Center in Tulsa in 1960 and his residency in thoracic and cardiovascular surgery at the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, Michigan in 1962.
Jim joined the practice of Dr. Maurice Hood in Austin, Texas in late 1962. In 1963 Jim took care of Governor John Connelly following his lung and shoulder injuries endured in Dallas at the Kennedy assassination. He was the only heart surgeon present at the time of the University of Texas tower shooting in 1966 and worked around the clock for 36 hours saving many peoples’ lives who had been injured by the sharp shooter perched in the tower.
Jim’s practice, Thoracic and Cardiovascular Surgeons of Austin, continued to expand. His early partnership included his dearest lifelong friend Homer (Hap) Arnold, MD; Thomas Kirksey, MD; Robert Tate, MD; Jerry Baugh, MD; Chip Oswalt, MD; Emory Dilling, MD; Robert Bridges, MD; and Phillip Church, MD. In 1973, Jim spent several months on the Ship Hope in Jamaica, performing volunteer surgery for local residents. Jim was an honorary board member of Seton Hospital.
After his years of practice, Jim retired and became an enthusiastic employee at Breed Hardware in Austin. His specialty was replacing wooden handles on broken tools and telling jokes. He met Susan Mustard when he helped her with an electrical matter. Jim and Susan began the move to Orcas Island, Washington in 2007. Jim delighted in the incredible beauty of the island as well as the talents/abilities and the warm open hearts of the islanders in full measure. The highlight of his week was a Doe Bay Social every Sunday and a highlight of each day was looking out at Otters Pond.
Jim is predeceased by his parents, his brothers Dean Henry Calhoon, Glen Lee Calhoon, Edward Latta Calhoon, MD, John Earl Calhoon, Bobby Joe Calhoon, and his beloved sister, Helen Fern Calhoon Funk. He is also predeceased by his devoted Boston Terrier, Stubby.
Jim is survived by his wife Susan, his three children with his first wife Jacqueline Johnson Calhoon:John Hal Calhoon, MD and his wife Sarah Lucero of San Antonio; Thomas Carter Calhoon of Austin and Aspen, Colorado; and Catherine Sumner Calhoon Hargrove of Paris, France; his daughter with his second wife Dawn Cooney Calhoon, Sarah Beth Calhoon of Austin; grandchildren: Peyton Riley Calhoon, Charles Edouard Sixte Hargrove, Eleonore Mathilde Elizabeth Hargrove, Satchel Irons Calhoon and Stetson Woods Calhoon; his brother Harold Wayne Calhoon, MD, and his wife Myrna; sisters in law Betty Calhoon and Felice Calhoon; and nieces and nephews: Scott Calhoon, MD, Lane Calhoon, Lea Rae Calhoon Helmerich, Mary Beth Calhoon, PhD, Robert Wayne Calhoon, Edward Lile Calhoon, Steve Funk, and Todd Calhoon. Jim is also survived by his Boston Terrier companions, Stanley and Maybelline.
An accomplished wood craftsman, Jim designed and built furniture on a handbuilt, foot-powered lathe and constructed an ultralight airplane with his two sons. He enjoyed the company of Victor Weber and Frank Toussant in many beekeeping endeavors. He was an environmentalist before his time and loved all aspects of nature, including gardening. He was able to cite the names of an astonishing variety of trees, flowers and animals. He enjoyed riding horses and was very proud of the tractors he restored over the course of his lifetime. He was a man with his shortcomings, fears and hopes as well as an intellectual, an iconoclast, a pioneer, a storyteller and a visionary.
Jim always said he only liked two kinds of pie: hot pie and cold pie. Jim will be remembered in his beloved Austin community at a later date to be announced. He will be remembered at the Olga Energetics Club in downtown Olga on Orcas Island at 2 p.m. on Saturday, Feb. 19. All are invited and pie will be served.
The family requests that memorials be sent to either The Friends of Moran (State Park), PO Box 1961, Eastsound, WA 98245 or Boston Terrier Rescue, 7 Bells Sanctuary, Inc, c/o Susan Timmerman, 103 East 2nd Street, Holden, MO 64040 or other favorite charity.
Submitted by Jim Calhoon’s family.