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

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1864 -- 150 years ago: Miss McCorkindale has opened millinery rooms over Gimbel's dry goods store, where she offers a choice lot of millinery goods, which she will manufacture to order.
1889 -- 125 years ago: The little South Park Presbyterian chapel celebrated it first Easter decorated with flowers for an afternoon worship service attended by a large congregation.
1914 -- 100 years ago: The Wennerberg Chorus of Augustana College has returned from a 2,000-mile tour in the Eastern states and Illinois.
1939 -- 75 years ago: Col. Charles Lindbergh has stated that he is convinced that Germany's air force is equal to the combined sky fleets of her potential European foes.
1964 -- 50 years ago: Small gas motors may be permitted on boats in the lake to be built in Loud Thunder Forest Preserve. The prospect was discussed yesterday at a meeting of the Rock Island County Forest Preserve Commission.
1989 -- 25 years ago: The annual Dispatch/Rock Island Argus Spelling Bee continues to be a family tradition. Ed Lee, an eighth-grader at John Deere Junior High School, Moline, is the 1989 spelling bee champion from among 49 top spellers in Rock Island, Henry and Mercer counties. He advances to the competition in Washington, D.C. Runnerup was Ed's sister, Susan.

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