COLUMBUS, Ga. – Howard “Bo” Callaway Sr., a former Georgia congressman, Army secretary and one of the founders of Callaway Gardens, died Saturday. He was 86.
Callaway died at an assisted-living facility in Columbus from complications from a brain hemorrhage he suffered about two years ago, said Rachel Crumbley, a Callaway Gardens spokeswoman.
His son Edward said in a statement that his family and the gardens family will miss him deeply.
“While he may be gone in body, as a founder of Callaway Gardens with my grandparents, his spirit will live on in his love of and vision for Callaway Gardens,” Callaway’s son said.
Callaway was elected to Congress in 1964, becoming the first Republican congressman from Georgia since Reconstruction. He left Congress to run for governor in 1966. Callaway actually received 3,000 more votes than the Democratic nominee, segregationist Lester Maddox, but because former Gov. Ellis Arnall mounted a write-in campaign, no candidate received the majority needed to win.
State law at the time did not allow for a general election runoff and instead, the Legislature was allowed to choose the next governor, and the Democratic-controlled body backed Maddox.
Although he lost, he inspired a generation of young Republicans, according to The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. Georgia House Speaker David Ralston, R-Blue Ridge, was 12 in 1966 and told the newspaper he remembered even then the impact Callaway had.
“I grew up in a family of Republicans and Bo Callaway was what we had been waiting for,” Ralston said. “I was in elementary school and I had my Blue Horse notebook and I had a ‘Go Bo’ sticker. And I remember being very proud.”
In 1973, he was appointed Secretary of the Army. From 1970 until 2003, he was the principal owner and CEO of Crested Butte Mountain Resort in Colorado. In 1980, he unsuccessfully ran for the U.S. Senate in Colorado and he was chairman of the state Republican Party there from 1981 until 1987.
Callaway was born in LaGrange, Ga. He attended the Georgia Institute of Technology before leaving to become a cadet at the United States Military Academy at West Point. He graduated in 1949 with a military engineering degree.
During his military career, Callaway served as a lieutenant. He was a platoon leader in Korea and a tactics instructor at Fort Benning. Callaway ended his military service in 1953 to return home and help his father develop and manage Callaway Gardens, a 6,500 acre garden and resort in Pine Mountain.
Callaway was a rabid baseball fan and his boat, the O Be Joyful, was a favorite pastime and one that he relished sharing with his family.
In celebration of Callaway’s life, a memorial organ concert will be held Wednesday at the Ida Cason Callaway Memorial Chapel at Callaway Gardens.