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Taking A Trail that Heads West and Into History


Brian Callahan '66. Illustration: Jack Confrey '19
Brian Callahan '66. Illustration: Jack Confrey '19

History lover Brian Callahan ’66 went from Hamilton to earn a master’s degree in medieval history, then he began his chosen career of teaching until the meager income forced him into a sharp turn. Callahan went into commercial banking, which he enjoyed until retirement out West pointed him back in his original direction.

He is the volunteer president and a founder of the Lifelong Learning Club in Sun City, Ariz. It’s a lot of work to plan and schedule courses and instructors; the payoff is that he gets to teach. Callahan has led courses on American and Irish folk music, the Civil War, and famous Western films 1939 through 1962, to name a few. 

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“My favorite course, the one that I’ve done the most, three or four times, is called Gunfighters of the Old West,” Callahan says. He covers famous range wars and feuds, the outlaw as popular hero, and the flip side, lawmen. Turns out a lot of them were at one point criminals. “It’s an intriguing dichotomy how many of these guys are actually bad men themselves that turn out heroes,” the teacher observes.

This fall he’ll teach courses on British comedies and siege warfare in the Civil War. Over the last 11 years, Callahan has taught 25 different courses, maybe more, and the ideas are still flowing. Near the top of his bucket list of courses he would like to teach — something related to the U.S. Revolutionary War.

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