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John Callagy

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Published in The New York Times on May 1, 2022

BORN 1944
DIED 2022

Funeral Mass
May, 6 2022
St. Thomas More Church
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CALLAGY–John M. died on April 28, 2022 of Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS). He was the beloved husband of Mollie (McNeil) for 52 years and father of Morgan (Saveria) of West Palm Beach, FL, Meegan Colgan (Joe) of Larchmont, NY, Catherine Callagy (RJ Luth, Jr.) of Darien, CT, and Claire Callagy (Dan Broderick) of Chilmark, MA. He is also survived by his grandchildren Christina, Isabella, and Marina Callagy, Mason and Lila Colgan, Mollie and Jack Luth, his sister Regina Burke, sister-in-law Lynn Callagy, and many nieces and nephews.

John, the son of Judge Martin V. Callagy and Elizabeth Sherwood Callagy, was born May 22, 1944. Raised in New York City, John attended Saint Ignatius Loyola parochial school and Loyola School. He graduated from Georgetown University in 1966 and NYU Law School in 1969, where he was a Root Tilden Scholar. He started his law career at Townley Updike Carter & Rodgers, then spent 46 years at Kelley Drye & Warren LLP, one of the oldest firms in New York City. He was a member of the firm’s executive committee and became its first Chairman in 1992. John led Kelley Drye as its Chair for nearly two decades. John steadily guided the firm through many challenges, including the global financial crisis and the aftermath of September 11th. He led the firm’s forward progress with enthusiasm and determination, and served as an advisor and mentor to countless colleagues and young lawyers who admired his acute attention to detail while maintaining big picture objectives and executing compelling, novel and winning strategies for his clients.

John leaves behind a professional legacy of a thriving firm and countless lawyers who benefited from his advice and example. As a corporate litigator, John represented a diverse client base throughout the US, Europe and Asia. In addition to his work for corporate clients, John dedicated a great deal of time offering pro-bono legal assistance to individuals and not-for-profit organizations, including Martha’s Vineyard Fishermen’s Preservation Trust, Brooklyn Legal Services Corporation A, and Lambda Legal. He served as an elected member of the Board of Finance for the Town of Darien, CT.

As a devout Catholic, John showed his love for the Church through his many charitable works. As a Trustee of the Inner-City Scholarship Fund for 15 years, he served on the Executive Committee and chaired the Development and Nominating Committees. He also served as Co-Chair of the Lawyers Committee and was instrumental in raising scholarship support for Inner-City students. John received the prestigious Saint Thomas More award from the Archdiocese of New York and was named a Knight of Malta. For many years John served on the Board of Regents for his alma mater, Georgetown University. He also served as a member of the Board of the Convent of the Sacred Heart School in Greenwich, CT, and recently became involved with the Jesuit Refugee Service, continuing his life-long commitment to helping those in need.

John was a member of the University Club in New York City for 50 years, and of Wee Burn Country Club in Darien, CT, and the Vineyard Golf Club in Edgartown, MA, where he spent many hours practicing his golf swing. In his 50’s John emerged as a health and fitness devotee, and he competed in his first triathlon just after his 50th birthday. Until his ALS diagnosis in July 2021, John spent his free time traveling, swimming, cycling, writing, reading, and cruising on his boat in Chilmark, MA.

A mass celebrating John’s life will be held on Friday, May 6, at 10:00am at St. Thomas More Church in Darien, CT. In lieu of flowers, please send donations in John’s memory to Compassionate Care ALS at