81st Grand Master of Masons in Virginia

Most Worshipful Charles Hilliard Callahan

Charles Hilliard Callahan was born at Aquia Mills, Stafford County, Virginia on August 22, 1858.

He was made an Entered Apprentice in Alexandria-Washington Lodge No. 22 on June 29, 1903, Passed to the Degree of Fellowcraft on August 18, 1903 and Raised to the Sublime Degree of Master Mason on August 28, 1903. He died in Alexandria, Virginia on Monday, July 31, 1944.

He served as Worshipful Master Alexandria-Washington Lodge, No. 22, in 1910; District Deputy Grand Master, for District No. 1 in 1912 and as Grand Master of Masons in Virginia in 1924 and 1925.

He was the Commissioner of Revenue, in Alexandria, Virginia from 1898 to 1944.

A Masonic Builder Passes

With the passing of Most Worshipful Charles H. Callahan, not only the Masonic Fraternity, the City of Alexandria, and the Commonwealth of Virginia, but all students of American history lost a friend. He represented all the fine qualities which make us feel proud to be Masons and Americans.

In his devotion to the Society of Freemasonry he labored to maintain the traditions which have made the Fraternity a source of good in the world, and put into practical application the principles for which it stands.

The George Washington Masonic Memorial on Shooter's Hill, Alexandria, Virginia, the Masonic Tubercular Pavillion at Blue Ridge, the Masonic Foundation for the relief of aged Masons, and constructive advancement at the Masonic Home, are tangible records of the long and fruitful life of our late Brother Callahan.

His famous book, "Washington, the Man and Mason," has gained worldwide fame. It has been said that this publication has been consulted more by public men, at the Library of Congress, than any other, save the Holy Bible. The proceeds from the extensive sale of this book were donated to the Washington Memorial Fund.

It is to the glory of the Masons of Virginia that they did not wait until Charlie Callahan passed away to pay tribute to his useful and unselfish life. He was justly honored in being designated to lay the corner-stone of the George Washington Masonic Memorial in 1923 and again in 1932 to preside at the dedication ceremonies. As late as February 22, 1944, a marble bust of him was unveiled in his presence and that of his family and friends at the George Washington Masonic Memorial. It was fitting indeed that on this occasion his life long friend and counselor, Right Worshipful J. E. W. Timberman, should deliver a eulogy to him, which was an inspiration to all who heard or have read it.

The public life of our beloved friend and associate was quite as pronounced as was his Masonic career. As Commissioner of Revenue of the City of Alexandria for forty-six years, his loyal and able service was so appreciated that he was re-elected eleven consecutive times without opposition. His wise counsel, sympathetic understanding and deep interest in the welfare of his fellowman, made him one of the first to whom his people turned in the hour of need and assistance. His kind and gentle manner and his ready wit that never stung, endeared him to the entire people of his home city.

In 1890 Charles H. Callahan was married in Washington, D. C., to Miss Mary Elizabeth Optish. From this union five children were born, namely, Jessica, Charles A., Mary Louise, Mildred R. and Virginia, all of whom survive except the first-born. No family circle was ever more congenial and happy than the Callahan family, each loving the other, all the children idolizing their parents and all proud of the many accomplishments of their father.

Masons from all sections of Virginia and some from other States, assembled on Thursday afternoon, August 3, 1944, at 2:30 o'clock for an Emergent Communication of the Most Worshipful Grand Lodge, Ancient Free and Accepted Masons, of the Commonwealth of Virginia, in the City Hall Quarters of Alexandria-Washington Lodge No. 22 to pay tribute to "Callahan, the Masonic Builder." Well-earned eulogies were delivered by the Grand Master, the Master of his lodge and many others, who spoke of his friendship and his great contribution to Masonic life. The Grand Lodge then proceeded to the Second Presbyterian Church, where religious services were conducted by Rev. Fred V. Poag; thence to Bethel Cemetery, in Alexandria, where Masonic Services were presided over by Most Worshipful John M. Stewart, Grand Master of Masons in Virginia.

It can truly be said that Charles H. Callahan was a Masonic Builder of both tangible and intangible values. Not only did he build well to perpetuate sacred memories and serve useful purposes, but by his unselfish life, his willingness to serve his fellow beings, and his constant efforts to promote high ideals, he in a very pronounced respect erected an intangible monument in the hearts and minds of those who knew him and wrote into the memory of his fellow-craftsman that fitting epitaph, "Good and Faithful Servant."

Blessed as he was with a long and useful life, his passing must not be considered a tragedy but rather the earthly end of a story of unselfish devotion to causes dear to his heart.

Let us weep in our darkness, but weep not for him;
Not for him whose departing, leaves many in tears,
Not for him who has died full of honor and years,
Not for him who ascended fame's ladder so high,
From the round at the top he has stepped to the sky.

(History of Virginia, Vol. V, page 129, by P.A. Bruce)
(Partial excerpts form Proceedings, G.L.V. 1944 pages 7 - 10)