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Published: Monday, 1/3/2005

Ex-wrestling coach enjoyed playing Santa for children

CLAY CENTER - Terry J. Calhoun, 48, a former coach at Genoa High School and longtime member of the Allen-Clay Joint Fire District who also enjoyed playing Santa for area children, died Friday at Bay Park Community Hospital in Oregon. His family said he died from kidney and heart failure brought on by cancer.

Though he never married or had children of his own, he spent countless hours with his nephews and nieces, and he loved to help area children.

"He spoiled his nieces and nephews rotten," his sister, Barb Dille, said. "He just loved kids."

She and her other sisters said one of his favorite times of year was Christmas, a time when he'd put on a Santa Claus suit and ride around on the back of a 1939 fire truck and throw candy and visit children. He eventually stopped riding on the back of the truck and went out on his own to relatives and friends. All together, he played Santa for 30 years, Ms. Dille said.

The former high school wrestling heavyweight - he was a state qualifier - also made for a quite believable Santa too.

"He didn't have to worry about stuffing," Ms. Dille said of her brother.

Mr. Calhoun worked as a truck driver at Katakis Excavating and Trucking Inc. for 16 years, and served on the fire department for 25 years, including 12 years as captain, before retiring from the department because of bad knees.

He coached football and wrestling at Genoa High School for many years, and his nephew, Donnie Applegate, said his uncle was popular with the student athletes.

"It was just his personality. He was such a fun-loving guy," he said.

Mr. Calhoun's sister, Suzanne Applegate, recalled that her brother once spent time filling in as a wrestling partner for one wrestler at the high school because that student didn't have anyone big enough to practice against.

"He was just a good-hearted person," she said. "He always worried more about other people than himself."

His sisters said shortly after graduating from high school, Mr. Calhoun moved in with his mother because his father had died, also at age 48, and he had promised his father to look after his mother.

Mr. Calhoun was a member of the Eagles Aerie No. 712 in Fremont and enjoyed snowmobiling in the Michigan woods, riding his Harley-Davidson motorcycle, wood crafts, camping, and watching NASCAR and sprint car racing.

He is survived by his special companion, Laura Tolliver; mother, Beverly Calhoun-Lehrman; sisters, Suzanne Applegate, Barbara Dille, Peggy Krumnow, Carolyn Baxter, and Darlene Wade; brothers, Timothy and Randall; and many nieces, nephews, great nieces, and great nephews.

Visitation will be today from 7 p.m. and tomorrow from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. at the Robinson-Henn-Brossia & Walker Funeral Home in Genoa. Funeral services are at 11 a.m. Wednesday at St. John's United Church of Christ in Genoa.

The family suggests tributes to the Allen-Clay Joint Fire District.



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