“He was a man of high integrity,” recalled his son, John Calhoun. “If he said he was going to do something, he did it.”
Calhoun died Jan. 1 from complications of hip surgery, just days after his wife, Vivian, died on Christmas. He was 86.
Born in Charco but raised in Goliad, Calhoun was influenced to be an educator by his mother, Ruth Calhoun, a guidance counselor at Goliad High School. Once James graduated from the school, he set about earning his bachelor's and master's degrees from Southwest Texas State Teachers College, now Texas State University.
He worked as a cook and kitchen server to put himself through school, all while playing basketball on the college's varsity team for three years.
At just 19 years old, he started teaching at Waelder High School. During this time, he coached the school's basketball team and taught math and history.He met his future wife at Southwest Teachers College, but it wasn't until the start of their teaching careers that the two married in 1952. They were together for 61 years.
Midway through his career as an educator, Calhoun owned and operated a ranch on the Nueces River.
“Dad loved to hunt,” his son said. “There was a lot of wonderful deer hunting there that he loved.”
Throughout his career, including 16 years as a principal, Calhoun had a large impact on his administrative staff, who went on in their own careers to become teachers and superintendents themselves, his son said.
“What he enjoyed most was helping students get an education and better themselves,” his son said, adding that he was instrumental in mentoring many students and peers.He retired as an educator in 1985, after which he continued to be active.
He played golf and traveled around the world to locations such as Alaska, Panama and the Caribbean.