Lois E. Callaghan, 96, a longtime resident of Oak Ridge, died February 24, 2019, peacefully at her home following a brief illness. At her passing, she was surrounded by children and grandchildren who were blessed by her unconditional love and unwavering faith.
Until the last two weeks of her life, she was a tireless supporter of her church and community and a source of strength and inspiration for her family and friends.
“Lois was a pillar of St. Mary’s parish and touched many lives in Oak Ridge,” said close friend Pat Zanolli. “She was a loyal friend and nurturing mother who will be lovingly missed.”
A devout Roman Catholic, Mrs. Callaghan initiated development of the Perpetual Adoration Ministry at St. Mary’s Church. With her parish partners, she fostered this ministry for almost 20 years. Decades earlier in 1958, she and her husband commissioned a marble statue of the Virgin Mary on the parish grounds that was sanctioned by the diocese Bishop as Our Lady of Oak Ridge.
She was born December 23, 1922, in Norristown, Pennsylvania, to the late Elizabeth and Lewis Werkiser. After attending business school, she worked in an administrative capacity on the construction of the Alcan Highway between Alaska and Canada. She later moved to New York City to work for a U.S. government immigration agency. While at this job, she met and fell in love with Frank Callaghan, an Army intelligence officer.
They married in 1944 and moved in 1949 to Oak Ridge where he was director of security for the Atomic Energy Commission (now the Department of Energy).
After his retirement from DOE in 1973, she worked alongside him at Frank Callaghan & Associates, an advertising and PR firm in Oak Ridge. Following his death in 1978, she owned and operated The Final Touch, a women’s fashion accessory store.
In addition to her passion for her church and love of country, Mrs. Callaghan loved dogs and caring for birds outside her home.
She is survived by children Patti Callaghan of Newburgh, Indiana, Susan Callaghan of Atlanta, Kathy Callaghan (Wayne Edwards) of Nashville, Chrissi Rhea of Oak Ridge, and Kevin Callaghan (Deborah) of Dallas; grandchildren Bryan Gray (Sherissa) of Newburgh, Indiana, Stephanie Brough (Curt) of Brownsburg, Indiana, Andrea Reyes (Tim) of Knoxville, Kevin Rhea (Pam) of Knoxville, Dr. Jess Edwards (Mike Zelek) of Chapel Hill, North Carolina, Katie Callaghan of Dallas, and Kimmie Callaghan of Dallas; and eight great grandchildren. She also leaves behind her loyal and loving dog, Casey.
A visitation with the family will be Friday, March 1, at 1 p.m. at St. Mary’s Catholic Church before the funeral mass at 2:30 p.m. The church is located at 327 Vermont Avenue in Oak Ridge. The burial service will follow at Oak Ridge Memorial Park.
Pallbearers will be Kevin Rhea, Curt Brough, Bryan Gray, Russell Beaty, Mike Zelek, and Tim Reyes.
Memorial donations can be made to St Mary’s Catholic School. Visit https://school.stmarysoakridge.org/ for more information.