After 50 years of service to Carmel and Clay Township, Doug Callahan is ready for a change of pace.
Callahan, 68, who has been Clay Township trustee since 2007 and worked for the Carmel Fire Dept. for 34 years before that, will retire from public service when his term ends at the end of the year.
“I want to thank the community for allowing me to serve 50 years here. This community is so wonderful,” Callahan said. “I raised my family here, my kids went to school here, and the City (of Carmel) and the township was so good to me and my family.”
When Callahan joined CFD in January 1973, it was the final Carmel Town Council that approved his hiring. The following year, Carmel began transitioning to a city form of government, and the first city council was installed in 1976.
In 1996, Mayor Jim Brainard promoted Callahan to CFD chief, a position he held until his first retirement in 2007. That same year, he became Clay Township trustee.
During his tenure as trustee, some of the township’s efforts shifted as the city annexed all township land not already within its borders and took over some of its responsibilities, such as managing the fire department. This helped free up the township to focus on other efforts, such as the funding improvements at several parks, building the Carmel Dads’ Club fieldhouse, helping build a museum for the Carmel Clay Historical Society and installing a fiber optic ring to improve communication and safety throughout the city.
Through all the changes, the township remained responsible for providing assistance to struggling residents, either by paying bills or connecting them with resources or nonprofits that could help. Callahan, who grew up on a farm with 14 siblings and worked with four of them in the fire department, said one of his goals as trustee has been to make sure every child in the township has access to basic necessities.
“Growing up, I know what my parents went through living on a farm. It was rough going,” he said. “For me to get into this position as township trustee, it was important to take care of the kids. It’s not those kids’ fault why the parents are in the positions they are in. I’ve always said no kid is going to go hungry or not have a place to sleep at nighttime.”
Paul Hensel, a Clay Township Board member who will succeed Callahan as trustee, said Callahan kept the office running smoothly and that he does not anticipate making any major changes in how it operates.
“(Callahan) has put his time and effort in, and he’s done a wonderful job,” Hensel said.
Brainard, who is stepping down as mayor at the conclusion of his seventh term at the end of 2023, thanked Callahan for his many years of service to the city and township.
“He is thoughtful, always a bridge builder and has probably done more as township trustee than any township I’m familiar with anywhere,” Brainard said. The mayor also credited Callahan with ensuring the city maintained an accredited, professional fire service during his tenure as chief.
In retirement, Callahan expects to remain in Carmel and continue his volunteer efforts. He may consider searching for a part-time job after he’s had a few months off, he said. He is looking forward to having more time to devote to his family, which includes his wife, Luann, three daughters and several grandchildren.