Jefferson City, Mo (KMIZ)
Friends who knew Melvin Callahan say that he was a jack of all trades.
Callahan served both his country and his community. He was also a pastor, carpenter, hunter, fisherman, volunteer, community leader and motorcyclist. And that is only scratching the surface of what Callahan could do.
“He was not just an 80-year-old elderly man. He was somebody special in our community that impacted many, many lives,” JoAnne Looten, a longtime friend of Callahan’s, said.
The Callahan was found dead with stab wounds to his neck and body on Nov. 24. His stepdaughter, Rejeane N. Redmon, 27, was charged in Cole County the next day with first-degree murder, armed criminal action and felony evidence tampering. On Friday, Redmon appeared in court by video from the jail, where the judge reset her bond review for Tuesday.
“He probably used his last breath to pray for her,” said Scott Marlow, Callahan’s friend of more than 30 years.
Callahan, whose friends referred to him as “Mel” graduated from Sullivan High School in 1961. Soon after, he enrolled in a Linotype course at the University of Missouri. One of his first jobs was working at the Missouri Baptist Convention Press. It is where he met his first wife Rose, who he was married to for more than 50 years before she passed away in 2021.
He married Thelma Jean Callahan in 2022. She became ill shortly after. Callahan took care of her until her passing on Nov 12.
In 1966, Callahan was drafted in the U.S Arm and was stationed in Okinawa.
Marlow said first met Callahan when his family joined a new church.
“Didn’t know Mel. Never had met Mel before however he was one of the first people that came over and shook our hand and introduced himself and welcomed us,” he said.
Looten first met him when she was 19 years old.
“He volunteered to drive the church bus that took me to Pleasant Hill Baptist Church when I was a child,” she said with a smile.
According to Looten, Callahan was a deacon at Pleasant Hill Baptist Church for most of his life. He later became a full-time pastor of First Baptist of St. Elizabeth.
“He volunteered for everything all the time there just wasn’t anything he wasn’t involved in and he lived to serve,” Looten said.
Callahan and Rose went on multiple mission trips to Africa and Mexico. Looten said Callahan went to prisons every Tuesday and Thursday to teach Bible study, volunteered with disaster relief teams, taught chainsaw-safety classes, and was an active member of the Missouri Christian Motorcycle Association, where he also taught safety courses. After the Joplin tornado in 2011, Callahan was there helping with relief efforts.
Callahan was a carpenter by trade, but had a variety of skills that he used to help others.
“He had a wealth of talent, he could do anything. Welding, carpentry, plumbing, roofing, carpet installation, painting you name it he was just an all-around handy guy to know and have on your team,” Marlow said.
“He came over to help me work on my house. He’s been to JoAnne’s house and a 'thank you' was more than enough. And after we were done, we would finish with a prayer and he would thank us for whatever reason,” Marlow said. “You know, there was no reason to thank me because he just crawled underneath my house with me and worked on a crawl space all day long. No reason to thank me but he did.”
There were countless stories of Callahan’s generosity. After hearing news of his death, Looten honored her friend in a Facebook post. Within hours, hundreds of people replied with stories of what Mel had done for them.
“He built a handicap ramp for my mother-in-law who couldn’t get in and out of her house anymore,” Looten said. “I know that he built some handicap ramps for a friend down the street who had a stroke recently. He has helped countless people move and learn how to hunt and learn how to fish and he taught motorcycle safety courses for the Christain Motorcycle Association. He was very involved in that ministry.”
Marlow said one morning he got a call from Callahan in the middle of a snowstorm.
“Everything was shut down” Marlow explained. “I couldn’t get to work. Mel said, ‘What are you doing?’ I said, ‘I’m sitting here drinking coffee watching it snow. What’s going on are you okay?’ Mel said ‘I’m OK, but some of our neighbors can’t get out of their driveways because of the trees that have fallen.’”
Marlow and Callahan then proceeded to grab a pair of chainsaws and help clear out trees in the middle of the storm.
“Mel was always a step ahead. Not only did he help get these people who were housebound out, he also took them water and offered to let them use his generator if their heat wasn’t working," Marlow said. "When we were done he said, ‘There’s another house up the road that needs some removal.’ So, we spent the day with our chainsaws helping these people out. He could have spent the day by just putting another log on his fire but he didn’t."