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Heller prof struck and killed by train

Published: October 15, 2010
Section: Front Page


Brandeis Professor James J. Callahan, 74, was killed Tuesday after he slipped and fell under an MBTA commuter rail train traveling inbound at the West Newton rail station, according to a report from a website based in Needham, Mass., NeedhamPatch.

Brandeis Senior Vice President for communications Andrew Gully said he was aware of the accident, and confirmed Callahan’s identity, but said he did not know any of the details surrounding the incident.

The accident is being investigated by the Newton fire department, according to NeedhamPatch’s report.

Callahan was a professor emeritus at Brandeis’ Heller School for Social Policy and Management, specializing in the history of social welfare policy, services and programs for older persons and mental health. Callahan, who was not teaching any classes at Heller this semester, had been a Brandeis faculty member for 25 years and received his doctorate from the university. Callahan also worked in state government as Secretary of Elder Affairs and Commissioner of Mental Health.

Callahan received his Bachelor’s degree from Holy Cross College before getting his Master’s of Social Work at Boston College. Boston College later awarded him the School of Social Work’s award for dedication, integrity and commitment to the field of social work in 2003.

The Newton fire department could not be reached by press time; however, Newton Fire Assistant Chief Bruce Proia told NedhamPatch that police received a 911-emergency phone call from the Newton platform at 7:48 a.m. on Tuesday, and that the accident caused a two-hour delay on the Framingham/Worcester commuter rail line.

Called Jim by his family and friends, Callahan is survived by his wife of 48 years Joan Callahan, sons James Callahan, John Callahan and fiancé Allyson Molnar, daughter Susan Bemis and her husband Phillip Bemis and his grandson Phillip Bemis, according to an obituary in The Boston Globe. He is also survived by brothers Richard Callahan and wife Sandra, and Neil Callahan and wife Sonja.

A private funeral service will be held tomorrow.