By Joseph Green-Bishop
Texas Metro News Correspondent
February 21, 2023 was a special day for Francis Calhoun Sr. as he celebrated 98 years on this earth.
The family patriarch plans to enjoy his special day surrounded by his four surviving children, 18 grandchildren and 38 great-grandchildren; who adore him and credit him with planting seeds of love, loyalty and faith in their lives.
“Our father believes in education,” said Charles Calhoun, the eldest of his father’s five children. “He has a ninth grade education and wanted us to do the very best that we could with our lives.”
Searching for a brighter future for their family, the Navy veteran and his wife, Ruth, left their birthplace in Jefferson, TX in 1953 and landed in West Dallas, where he took a job at a Dallas meat-packing company and the family joined Mt. Tabor Baptist Church.
“Our father and mother were great people of faith,” his son said. “He sang tenor in the male chorus and for many years was a member of the deacon board. Church was a very important part of our family life. My parents were married for 72 years.”
He also went to work for Dallas ISD, eventually retiring as a senior custodian, after 20 years of service.
While the senior Calhoun, whose wife passed two years ago, lives alone in Dallas; there are few days when one of his children or grandchildren are not at his home.
His children bring him meals on a regular basis, and one of his grandchildren regularly cleans his home.
On Sundays he worships at the ‘Full of Faith Christian Center’ in DeSoto where his youngest son, Dr. C. Ray Calhoun, is the pastor.
Her grandfather holds down his “patriarchal position as though he was sitting on a throne,” said Dr. Charmeka Calhoun Lipscomb.
“To know him is to love him. We are truly blessed. He may have gray on his head, but he has gold in his heart,” she said of her grandfather, who is the lone survivor of three brothers.
Although he has witnessed quite a bit of changes over the past nine decades and he only stopped driving himself to the barbershop and grocery store last year, he remains steadfast in his faith and routines.
“Each morning he completes the word puzzle from The Dallas Morning News,” said his son, Charles. “His other passion is football. He is a great fan of the Dallas Cowboys. It is hard to drag him away from the television set when they are playing.”
Among the many lasting gifts that Mr. Calhoun has bestowed upon his family is an annual family reunion which he started in 1974, his son said. “We just had one in June. It is a wonderful time for every member of the family.”
“Gramps is a man of ethics, humility, compassion, and an undeniable love for his children,” said Keatha Delley-Crew, a grandchild, affectionately using a title for her grandfather that is also used by a number of his grandchildren.
“We can only pray that he feels as loved by members of the family as he has loved us.”
Joseph Green-Bishop is a long-time journalist who has published newspapers in America and Africa. Currently he is a news correspondent for Texas Metro News.