Mystery writer Barbara Hayes Callahan of Cherry Hill dies


Barbara Hayes Callahan, a Cherry Hill resident, writer, and devoted Catholic, died July 20. She was 74.

Born in Philadelphia, she was a 1952 graduate of Little Flower Catholic High School and 1956 graduate of Chestnut Hill College.

A consistent writer of mystery short stories, Callahan had 20 stories published from August 1964 until last month, in Ellery Queen’s Mystery Magazine or in Alfred Hitchcock’s Mystery Magazine. In 1977, her story “Lavender Lady” was one of the five finalists for the Edgar Award for the year’s best short-story mystery. In 1976, it had been published in Ellery Queen’s Mystery Magazine.

She spent time from 1956-59 teaching English and French at the present-day John B. Stetson Middle School, and Samuel S. Fels and Roxborough High Schools.

From 1981 until her retirement in 1995, she was a writer and editor for DataPro Research Corp. in Delran, a McGraw-Hill publishing division that created computer manuals.

A passionate Roman Catholic, in 1967 she was a founder of Women’s Cursillo of South Jersey, which organized spiritual retreats. She was also a volunteer with Kairos Prison Ministry, whose New Jersey chapter her husband, Jack, founded in 1978.

Her son, Kevin, remarked that throughout his and his four siblings’ lives, they have always brought friends home to meet their mother. At her funeral, he noted, the friends old and new, who have passed through the Callahan home, paid their respects.”

“They all knew my mom and shared the good times, (having been) affected by her goodness.”

Msgr. Michael Mannion, a long-time family friend of the Callahans, reflected on the life of Barbara at the funeral, calling her “always a woman of quiet dignity and an engaging warmth and smile. She was one who accepted each of her children and grandchildren with wisdom and the freedom to be oneself.”

Recalling her wisdom, Msgr. Mannion said that it was to “Just Be! All Will Be Well!”

She is pre-deceased by her brother-in-laws, Msgr. Richard Callahan and John Sheerin; and sister-in-law, Peggy Crowell.

In addition to her husband and son, Callahan is survived by sons John P. Jr., Dr. Richard (Denise), and Paul; daughter, Liz Nicastro (Vince); sister Marie Sheerin; six grandchildren; and many nieces and nephews.

A Mass of Christian Burial was celebrated on Saturday, July 25 at St. Peter Celestine Church, Cherry Hill. Interment was at Calvary Cemetery, Cherry Hill.

In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to Susan G. Komen for the Cure, Attn: Gift Management Services, 5005 LBJ Freeway, Suite 250, Dallas, Tex. 75244.