Obituary: Kenneth “Ray” Callahan

Published 4:51 pm Thursday, September 7, 2017

Kenneth “Ray” Callahan
Coach Kenneth “Ray” Callahan died peacefully in Virginia on September 2, at the age of 84. Ray is survived by his wife of 63 years, Essie “Lee” Dorsey-Callahan. He has a son, Kenneth Ray Callahan, Jr; 3 daughters, Karen Lee Callahan, Terri Lynn Caravousanos, Toni Kay Callahan; 14 grandchildren and 7 great grandchildren.
Ray was born on April 28th, 1933 in Loretto, KY to James Earl and Effie Rhea Callahan. He played football at Lebanon High School and was known as “Mr. Touchdown”. Callahan was old school where toughness was a given. He was recruited to play at Kentucky by then coach Paul “Bear” Bryant in 1952 on a full scholarship. He became one of Bryant’s favorite players and often went fishing and on recruiting trips with the coach. He later coached at Kentucky from 1963-66 after winning the state title at Danville. He was an assistant coach at Cincinnati for two years and became head coach in 1969 – 1972.
Callahan’s keen football mind took him to the NFL in 1973 with the Baltimore Colts as a linebacker coach under former teammate Howard Schnellenberger. Next he went to the World Football League with the Florida Blazers and coach Jack Pardee before coming back to the NFL with the Chicago Bears as offensive line coach. He was there the first three years that Hall of Fame running back Walter Peyton was with the team. Pardee brought him to to the Washington Redskins as offensive line coach and then he went to the Houston Oilers as defensive line coach for two years.
Callahan spent the next seven years in New York as defensive line coach “sack exchange” for the New York Jets before retiring.
He is remembered as a humble, honorable man who was dedicated to his wife and family. He could play a mean harmonica and hand carved a dancing doll that entertained many. He touched many lives during his time on this earth and will be remembered fondly.
Condolences can be sent to Lee Callahan at 734 Poplar Creek Rd, Bracey, VA 23919. A celebration of life will be held in KY at a later date to be announced. Online condolences may be made at The family is being served by Watkins Cooper Lyon Funeral Home of Clarksville, VA.

Email newsletter signup