• Monday, 10 Jul, 2023,
  • by Peter Quilty

Family man Ken Callaghan loved coursing with a passion…

Staunch coursing advocate Kenneth Callaghan has died, aged 88.

Callaghan passed away peacefully in his sleep in the early hours of Friday, June 30 following a seven-week hospital stay battling illness.

He was due to celebrate his 89th birthday on July 25.

National Coursing Association of Victoria treasurer and historian Heather Villinger supplied the following information highlighting Callaghan’s commitment to coursing after receiving life membership of the NCAV in 2010:

  • Commenced on the Executive Committee of the NCAV – 1979 or 1980
  • Active on the Executive Committee – 20 years
  • Delegate/s for – Casterton Coursing Club / Melton Greyhound Racing Club

Ken Callaghan has been associated with several of our coursing clubs over many years.

Ken along with Ron Nestor was a delegate for the Casterton Club. Ken was also a delegate for the Melton Greyhound Racing Club for approximately 15 years.

Other clubs to benefit from Ken’s assistance were the Bacchus Marsh Coursing Club – this club held picnic meetings.

“Dad loved coursing with a passion… and was amazingly devoted to his grandkids and great-grandkids.”

Also, the Victoria Coursing Club benefited from Ken and Ron Nestor’s input. Around 1995-96 this club was struggling to maintain a committee, members and nominations, and both Ken and Ron worked with interested parties to ensure the survival of this club. John Warren (president/secretary) and John Maple (still on the committee) worked diligently with Ken and Ron to achieve this goal.

Ken was vice-president to Ron Nestor for four years and upon Ron’s passing, Ken took on the mantle of president for several years until his retirement due to ill health. Tony Mills became the president at this time. Ron Nestor took on the role of president, which he held for many years, from Sylvester Doyle.

Ken was involved during one of the most tumultuous times in our Association’s history, when many changes were made to the responsibilities of the NCAV.

However, due to efforts not only of Ken and his executive at that time, the NCAV has continued to ensure that coursing holds its place in the Victorian greyhound industry.

In presenting Ken with life membership of the NCAV, the current Executive would like to thank Ken for his contribution and participation to both our Association and coursing in general.

“Ken was a very obliging and helpful executive member and most supportive of those newly elected to the NCAV executive, giving them a sound view of ‘how things should be conducted’. He was also a very capable and reliable judge at our coursing meetings and was a usual attendee at most of the coursing meetings,” Heather said.

“As a loyal supporter of coursing, Ken often championed on coursing’s behalf in a time when there were a lot more operative coursing clubs. Ken was always a friendly face to see and happy to have a chat about our great coursing greyhounds and persons of yesteryear.”

And his son, Craig, reflected on his father in glowing terms.

“Dad loved coursing with a passion. He was also amazingly devoted to his grandkids and great-grandkids. And Richmond Football Club was another of his great loves.”

Craig added that his father was also a top local sportsman.

“Dad played in 12 football grand finals, and represented the Navy. He also played Sunday Amateur footy and in back-to-back winning VFA grand finals.

“He crushed three fingers, which were amputated, in a press… and still played football the following weekend.”

“He crushed three fingers, which were amputated, in a press at his brother’s steel fabrication plant and still played football the following weekend.

“He was also a life member of the East Brunswick Football Club and Sunshine Cricket Association.”

Craig also recalled some of the greyhounds his father trained from a suburban backyard in Sunshine.

“Rylstone won at Bendigo on July 20, 1998, at his 100th start; Beltario and Scopic won at Olympic Park; and Boulder won at Sandown Park.

“During my teens, I remember we had to get to every meeting an hour before kennelling because dad would take 45 minutes talking to everyone along the way.”

Callaghan is survived by his Margaret, children Craig and Lisa, along with four grandchildren and six great-grandchildren.

The funeral service to celebrate the life of Kenneth ‘Ken’ Callaghan will be held in the ‘Chapel of Peace’ at Altona Memorial Park Cemetery – 2-14 Dohertys Road, Altona North – on Tuesday, July 11, commencing at 10.15am.

Ken Callaghan with his grandchildren – Jessica, Jasmine, Matthew and Jack.

Ken Callaghan with his grandchildren – Jessica, Jasmine, Matthew and Jack.

Peter QuiltyPeter Quilty

Peter Quilty

Peter Quilty has more than three decades of experience as assistant editor of Victorian Greyhound Weekly. He was editor of GRV monthly magazine The Adviser (2001-09) and owner/publisher of Australian Greyhound Monthly. He also served on the selection panel for the inaugural GRV ‘Hall of Fame’ inductees and for several years was an adjudicator on the Victorian GOTY. He’s also published greyhound racing yearbooks and wrote the ‘Bold Trease’ video script.

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