John Callahan Garden Dedication

By: Dan Callahan, Project Manager


It’s rare to have the opportunity to work with a client on a project that has a deep personal meaning to you as well. This year I have been fortunate to be able to work on a memorial for my late uncle, John Callahan, in collaboration with Legacy Health Good Samaritan. John was a quadriplegic, cartoonist, and artist whose work was featured in Willamette Week for 27 years and published in multiple books, created two cartoon shows and much more. He used his humor and perspective to shed light on disabilities, as well as making light of topics commonly seen as taboo. A movie based on his autobiography, “Don’t Worry, He Won’t Get Far on Foot,” is scheduled to be released in spring 2018.

His memorial is located on the property of Legacy Health’s Good Samaritan Campus in the heart of historic NW Portland, where he spent most of his later life at the hospital that served him. It features an accessible biography panel and steel ribbons with 50 selections of his cartoon work. Other features include a new seating area and completely renovated landscape and lighting, customized for accessibility and terrain to be utilized for physical therapy. Tied to the complete rehabilitation of Legacy’s park located on NW 21st and Lovejoy which opened earlier this summer, the Memorial provides a fantastic feature for patients and public alike to enjoy the new park.

John was a fixture of the neighborhood and was easily recognizable cruising the streets of NW Portland. It seemed each time I visited him he was taking on a new project whether it was supporting his cartoons, a new TV show, drawing portraits or writing music. I was always impressed at his desire to keep striving for new ideas using art, as well as his unfazed, clever wit to poke fun at his and our realities. I cannot state in as many words how appreciative I am that I could contribute to my uncle’s legacy and family and having the support from Lease Crutcher Lewis to do so.

Many thanks to Legacy Health, local artists and designers Tad Savinar, Jesse Stemmler and John Laursen, Lewis General Foreman Matt Hayner, and to my family for their large amount of funding. Thanks to Lewis as well for allowing me to donate my project management time, donating the time of others’, fees, and the coordination with artists and landscapers. After many years in the works, this project has become a reality. I’m excited to announce the Memorial is scheduled to open Friday, October 27th at 11:30AM.