He wanted to make a difference in the lives of others, and those who knew Charles R. “Chuck” Callanan said he accomplished his goal with flying colors.

“Service to others was the crux of his life,” said his daughter, Martha Callanan of Sante Fe, N.M. “He was about people, about connecting with them.”

Mr. Callanan, a longtime resident of Yarmouth, died Friday at age 86.

His wife and the couple’s children gathered over the weekend at their summer cottage in Popham Beach — a home the Callanans built in 1975 — to prepare for a future without him.

“Everybody admired and loved him. He was an amazing man,” said his wife, Mary.

Born in Albany, N.Y., Mr. Callanan graduated from the Albany Academy for Boys in 1943 and went on to attend Princeton University.

He served as a lieutenant in the Navy during World War II and the Korean War.

In 1966, Mr. Callanan and his wife moved to Baltimore in an effort to provide educational opportunities for their special needs son, Owen, who was non-verbal.

Owen died in 2005, but not before his father wrote a book that is still available today.

“Since Owen: A Parent-to-Parent Guide for Care of the Disabled Child” was published by Johns Hopkins University Press in 1990. At the time, the book was widely distributed to libraries across the United States in the hope that it would help other parents of disabled children.

In 1977, the couple moved from Maryland to Yarmouth, where they settled into a home on Center Street.

The Callanans became interested in Maine after the athletic director at the Park School in Brooklandville, Md., told them, “You’ve got to come to Maine. It’s God’s country.” Mr. Callanan had served as Park School’s headmaster for nine years.

Mr. Callanan devoted a good deal of his time and energy to improving the education and health of children.

His wife said her husband’s Trout Foundation, which he founded in 1989, distributed close to $1 million to educators from rural Maine schools.

He contributed a lot of his own money to the foundation, whose funds were spent on books, computers, training and student field trips to museums and cultural events.

“We never professed to make a big difference, but we revelled in the smallness, in the little successes,” Mr. Callanan was once quoted by a newspaper reporter during an interview about the foundation.

“(His work on behalf of the foundation) didn’t surprise me because this is what he did,” his wife said.

In 2009, the couple was honored by the town of Yarmouth for their public service. They became the recipients of the Latchstring Award — an annual award established in 1980 that recognizes caring individuals who strive to make the community a better place to live.

Martha Callanan said her parents are still recognized today for what became a tradition at Yarmouth schools.

For more than three decades, hundreds of children from Yarmouth’s elementary school would walk five blocks to the couple’s home on Center Street, where the Callanans would demonstrate apple cider pressing and maple sugaring. “The kids would gather around and he’d give them a little lecture,” his daughter said.

He also found time to volunteer at Maine Medical Center, where he supervised the pediatric playroom in the evenings and counseled apprehensive family members awaiting news of their sick or injured loved ones in the hospital’s emergency room.

His wife said she will miss his wit and charm.

At Christmas, Mr. Callanan would shop for goofy gifts at Goodwill.

“He would buy the most outrageous-looking clothes he could find and people would put them on. He loved to make people laugh,” his wife said.

He was also quite charming.

“He would kiss their hands (as a greeting). Not many men do that anymore,” she said.

Burial will be private, but the family plans to hold a memorial service in Yarmouth on Aug. 19, his daughter said. The time and place have not been determined.

Staff Writer Dennis Hoey can be contacted at 791-6365 or at:

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