Former WFLA-Ch. 8 and WTOG-Ch. 44 anchor Barbara Callahan dies in New York
Over the length of a near-20-year career in Tampa Bay area TV news, Barbara Danahy Callahan was known best for her professionalism and courage -- from returning to a high profile anchor job after cancer treatment to supporting her plastic surgeon husband amid a flurry of lawsuits and legal troubles.
Mrs. Callahan, 62, died July 16 in New City, New York of complications from salivary gland cancer; when she was first diagnosed with cancer in 1996, it prompted surgery and a three-month medical leave from her job as a news anchor at St. Petersburg's WTOG-Ch. 44.
A longtime St. Petersburg resident, she had returned to New York to spend her last days with family. Eventually, she was buried in a family plot and even wrote much of the obituary posted online, said her son, Daniel J. Callahan Jr.
Area viewers saw Mrs. Callahan deliver the news at two local TV stations over 18 years. In 1980, she came to WTOG from St. Louis, hosting the St. Petersburg station's PM Magazine and later co-anchoring its 10 p.m. newscast.
By 1986 she had moved to Tampa NBC
affiliate WFLA Ch. 8, where she anchored morning and noon newscasts until 1992, when her contract was not renewed. She returned to then-UPN affiliate WTOG in 1993, working there until the station shuttered its news department in 1998, essentially retiring from journalism afterward.
In her time on air, Mrs. Callahan spread awareness about cancer, co-founding the Greater Tampa Bay Breast Screening Project with the American Cancer Society and serving on task forces aimed at curbing teen smoking and encouraging mammographies. Her mother had died of cancer in the mid-90s, and Mrs. Callahan's advocacy work earned honors in 1995 from the American Women in Radio and Television.
But Mrs. Callahan, who also once served as president of the Tampa Bay chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists, also faced public controversy due to allegations against her husband, plastic surgeon Daniel J. Callahan.
In 1992, Mr. Callahan closed his St. Petersburg medical practice amid allegations he traded operations for sex and other improprieties, giving up his medical license three years later. But police arrested him in 2002, alleging he was practicing medicine without a license, flying patients to Mexico for procedures. Daniel Callahan Jr. said his father no longer practices medicine.
Mrs. Callahan is survived by her husband and son, along with several brothers and sisters and their spouses. In lieu of flowers or cards, the family suggests donating to a scholarship fund established in the name of Mrs. Callahan's father, The John J. Danahy Sr. Memorial Scholarship, at All Hallows High School, 111 East 164th St., Bronx, NY 10452.