The Roots and Legacy of a Credit Union Leader

Recently I was contacted through this blog for information about Ed Callahan’s career as a high school coach, educator and administrator.

The writer was Kevin Patrowsky who is a Wisconsin high school football historian living in Milwaukee.   He wanted to add information about Ed Callahan’s tenure as a teacher and coach at Don Bosco High School.  His blog is Wi Hi Football | History of Wisconsin High School Football.

This week he posted his account of Don Bosco’s success as the Milwaukee Catholic Conference mid-1960’s powerhouse.  The following is his excerpt describing Ed’s tenure at Don Bosco and move to a new program at Boylan Catholic High School in Rockford, Illinois.

Callahan’s Career as a Coach, Teacher and School Administrator

“Coach DanFleming’s replacement at Don Bosco was Edgar “Ed” Callahan who spent five seasons as the head coach, 1955-59 going 28-12-1. Don Bosco had a 7-1-1 season in his initial season of 1955 and then a 7-1-0 year in 1957. They finished second in the Catholic those two years and in the middle of the pack the other three going 4-4-0 in 1956 and 5-3-0 in each of the 1958 and 1959 seasons.

“For coach Ed Callahan, his story is much more widely known than his predecessor. Born in 1929 in Youngstown, Ohio he attended Ursuline High School where he was a very good tackle. Standing 6’1, weighing 225, Callahan graduated in 1946. He was offered many scholarships, but he chose Marquette because he wanted to go to a Catholic Jesuit University.

“Graduating in 1951 with a B.A. in mathematics, Ed stayed on to get a Master’s Degree in Educational Administration in 1952. He then went to Don Bosco as a math teacher and an assistant coach for football and basketball, before replacing Dan Fleming as the top football man. A very principled man with high integrity he was, to say the least, a man that others thought highly of.

“In 1960 he was recruited by a new school in Rockford Illinois to start the football and basketball program at Boylan Catholic High School which opened that year. In 1966 Don Bosco played Rockford Boylan and the Don’s beat the Titan’s 26-25. Ed stayed as the football and basketball coach plus the head of the math department until 1970 when he became the school’s principal.

“In 1971 he took the job as superintendent of the Rockford Area Catholic Schools and stayed until 1975. Because Ed had a reputation as a very trustful and effective administrator, he was asked by the State of Illinois to become the Assistant Secretary of State. Shortly thereafter in 1987, the Governor appointed him Director of Financial Institutions for the state of Illinois.

“Ed and several of his assistants inherited a floundering department and set the ship right to serve the state’s financial institutions including credit unions. A life-long Democrat, Ed caught the attention of Republican President Ronald Reagan who, in 1981, asked him to serve as Chairman of the National Credit Union Administration (NCUA).

“This Washington DC-based federal government organization had been recently reorganized as an independent regulatory agency during the Carter administration.  In 1981 when Ed assumed this position, the the country was in the midst great economic uncertainty and deregulation was affecting all financial institutions.  The new agency was transitioning from its prior function as a bureau within HEW.

“Ed left in 1985 and started his own company, Callahan and Associates, Inc. which became the leading provider of financial data to credit unions in the United States. He served in several other positions before retiring in 2002 and then passing in 2009.”

The Rest of the Story

A blog devoted to high school football would not spend many words on Ed’s next career and multiple contributions to the credit union system.

In February 2003 when receiving the National Credit Union Foundation’s Herb Wegner Lifetime Achievement Award, an introductory film summarized this period of Ed’s professional accomplishments.

To understand Ed’s leadership,  I believe one must be  aware of his initial career as an educator and coach. In these multiple roles in high school education, Ed formed his multiple skills of vision, innovation,  communication  and effective management.

Here is how the Foundation described his legacy for the credit union system in this Lifetime Achievement award.


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