John Califf

Posted Online: May 03, 2013, 6:34 pm
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John P. Califf, 73, of Rock Island, died on Wednesday, May 1, 2013, at Silver Cross Nursing Center, Rock Island.
A memorial service celebrating John's life will be at 10:30 a.m. Tuesday at St. John's Lutheran Church, Rock Island. Visitation is 4 to 7 p.m. Monday at Wheelan-Pressly Funeral Home, Rock Island. Private inurnment will be at Chippiannock Cemetery, Rock Island. Memorials may be made to St. John's Lutheran Church, Rock Island, Augustana College, Rock Island, or to the Lutheran Outdoor Ministries Center, Oregon, Ill.
John Paul Califf was born on June 2, 1939, in Moline, the son of Junius and Katharine Steele Califf. He attended Rock Island Schools, Lawrence University, Appleton, Wis., and graduated from Augustana College in 1962. Upon completion of Master of Arts (social work, administration), he was hired at Bethany Home in Moline, as a caseworker and supervisor of the residential program for 24 emotionally disturbed children.
John and Nancy Telleen Califf were married on June 21, 1964, at John's Lutheran Church, Rock Island.
In 1968, they moved to Littleton, Colo., where John worked for Lutheran Family and Children's Services of Colorado and New Mexico for 17 years. He supervised child welfare programs, the Hispanic Community Center in Denver, and the refugee resettlement program. He served as chairman of the Rocky Mountain Adoption Exchange from 1978 to 1982.
In 1985, they moved to Dixon, Ill., where John served as executive director for the Northern Illinois Region of Lutheran Social Services of Illinois. John directed a $2 Million capital campaign and supervised child welfare, senior services, Nachusa Lutheran Home and school-based services.
In 1995, they moved to Peoria, Ill., where John served as leader of the management team in Central Illinois for Lutheran Social Services.
In 2001, they moved to Rock Island. John served as the interim director at the Lutheran Outdoor Ministries Center, Oregon, followed by serving as assistant to the Bishop of the Northern Illinois Synod and was responsible for describing outreach ministries and charitable giving opportunities. John returned to the Lutheran Outdoor Ministries Center as director of development.
John was a member of St. John's Lutheran Church, Rock Island, a board member of the Quad City Stamp Club, vice president of Transitions Mental Health Board and a member of ILLOWA Lutheran Coalition Clergy and Lay Professionals. He was an active member of the Rock Island Kiwanis Club, where he served as first vice president, board member, program chairman, grants committee chair and was a named a George F. Hixson Fellow of Kiwanis International. John also served as secretary of the Kiwanis Quad City Coordinating Council, member of the Northern Illinois Synod Tanzania Task Force, Danish Mission Hospital (India) Task Force and Northern Illinois Synod Global Mission Committee 2000-2005 trustee and the Lutheran Social Services of Illinois Cornerstone Foundation.
John received several awards and recognitions, in addition to the Hixson honor, they include the Colorado Adoption Professional of the Year, Dixon United Way Volunteer of the Year, Lutheran Outdoor Ministries National Distinguished Service Award, Thrivent Financial Focus on Faith National Award and the Thrivent Financial Greater Iowa Region Volunteer of the Year Award.
He enjoyed reading, travel and stamp collecting. John was a die-hard Chicago Cub fan, amateur photographer, coached and refereed soccer and also enjoyed gardening, swimming, public speaking, playing golf and attending Augustana College sporting events.
Survivors include his wife, Nancy; sons and daughter-in-law, Bill and Jenny Califf, River Falls, Wis., and Steven Califf, Milan; grandsons, Marcus and Jackson Califf, River Falls; sister and brother-in-law, Betsy and John Wheelan, Glenview, Ill.; brother-in-law and sister-in-law, Bill and Pam Telleen, Minneapolis; and five nephews; and a niece. He was preceded in death by his parents; and an uncle, J. William Califf, who was killed in France during World War II.
Online condolences may be left at


Local events heading

  Today is Wednesday, Oct. 1, the 274th day of 2014. There are 91 days left in the year.

1864 -- 150 years ago: It is rumored in the streets that the 13 negroes sent to Quincy on the Moline quota were refused. We think this must be a mistake.
1889 -- 125 years ago: Harvey McKenna, of Detroit, billiard player matched to play Wizard Schafer in New York in January for the world championship, was a professional friend and manager, Billy Catton in Rock Island.
1914 -- 100 years ago: Levi Cralle, former Rock Island county sheriff, had come from his farm near Mitchell, S.D. to visit friends in the city.
1939 -- 75 years ago: Work is being rushed on the new high school building in Orion to replace the one destroyed by fire last winter. Classes are being held in churches.
1964 -- 50 years ago: Rehearsals for the 84th season of the Handel Oratorio Society chorus will begin at 7:30 p.m. Monday on the stage of Centennial Hall, Augustana College.
1989 -- 25 years ago: The Rock Island City Council's plan announced this week to have the federal government vacate Valley Homes public housing and move residents to Arsenal Courts to reduce density may not be feasible.

(More History)