It was a packed house at Christ the King Catholic Church in Pine Mountain as family, friends, and state dignitaries said their goodbyes to Howard “Bo” Callaway.
Callaway is best known for founding Callaway Gardens, and serving as a Congressman in the Georgia House of Representatives from 1965- 1967. He also served as the Secretary of the Army under Presidents Nixon and Ford from 1973-1976. But it was an unsuccessful run for Georgia Governor that many said spoke volumes of who Bo Callaway truly was to his family and friends.
“He picked himself up. He didn’t look back. He just moved on to what was next,” said his son, Edward Callaway. “This is the essence of my father. He picked himself up after crushing defeats.”
Former U.S. Speaker of the House, Newt Gingrich, spoke a remembrance of Callaway and of his enduring impact on the Republican Party landscape.
“I would not have become a congressman or Speaker of the House. There would not have been a Republican majority in the House, if it were not for Bo Callaway,” said Gingrich.
Gingrich was overcome with emotion during the funeral mass on Wednesday. Gingrich said Callaway was like a second dad to him, and helped him through three campaigns.
“I have no doubt over the last three days, Bo put together a heavenly baseball team, and is developing the first heavenly Republican club,” Gingrich joked.
But it was his love for the Army and all things military that people remembered most about the former West Point graduate and Secretary of the Army.
“I fondly remember sitting around the campfire with him. Bo loved God, loved his country, his family, his army, and Callaway Gardens,” said Norman Augustine who served as Undersecretary of the Army from 1975-77, but more importantly, was a life-long friend of Callaway.
Mark Shreve, a third district general with the Department of Georgia American Legion said he remembers most, Callaway’s smile when he returned from an Honor Flight where he took World War Two Vets to D.C.
Gingrich added that Callaway would light up anytime he would land at an Army base and see the men and women serving their country.
Callaway received full military honors. His casket was draped with an American flag and, as a final tribute, army soldiers fired off cannons as the sound of ‘Taps” resonated over the countryside.
The last two years of Callaway’s life were not easy. According to his son, following the cerebral hemorrhage, Callaway had to learn to swallow, eat, and speak again. Doctors said it wouldn’t happen. Eighty-six year old Callaway proved them wrong. Family and friends said he attended Rotary meetings every Wednesday, church services every Saturday, and was planning to take a trip on his boat this past February.
“He picked himself up, he aimed high,” said Edward Callaway.
“He was a stubborn man,” said the Rev. John Madden with Christ the King Catholic Church. “He would stand up during service, even though he was in a wheel chair.”
Toward the end of the mass, Madden played an Irish hymn. He said angels were saying “Go, Bo, go,” just like his 1967 campaign slogan. But instead of winning an election, Bo Callaway won his race home.
Callaway Gardens hosted an open memorial for supporters to come and remember the legacy Callaway left.
The Ida Cason Memorial Chapel played an organ concert from 10 am to 4 pm while those wishing to say a last goodbye passed through and paid their respects.