Kenneth Calloway, 67, Wildwood lawyer and character

Posted: June 28, 2012

Kenny Calloway was the big guy with a golden retriever riding on the back of his motorcycle.

You wouldn't suspect he was on his way to do his duty as a judge, dispensing justice with an even hand while Galileo waited patiently on the bike.

Needless to say, Kenny Calloway was not your ordinary jurist, or your ordinary lawyer, or your ordinary anything else. Ordinary was not an adjective you would have applied to the very large (6-2, 350 pounds) character who served, charmed and amused the people of Wildwood, N.J., and its environs as a counselor who championed the little people, a municipal court judge in Wildwood, Middle Township and Sea Isle City, and a devoted traveler who rode his Honda Gold Wing 1800cc motorcycle across the country, often with his wife Janet on the back.

Kenneth E. Calloway, who would take your legal case whether you could pay or not, whose feats of generosity endeared him to all who met him, died Tuesday of complications of a fall at his home in North Wildwood. He was 67.

"Kenny Calloway was quite the character," said longtime friend, Robert Strauss, veteran Philadelphia-area journalist. "He was big, loud, funny and bawdy. But he felt he could be that way because he also gave everything he had to his clients and his friends."

Kenny grew up in Wildwood Crest where his father, Earl, was a prominent real estate broker, as well as a motorcycle enthusiast.

"Earl was Irish and Kenny's mother, Madeline, was Italian and Kenny was that perfect combination," Strauss said.

"He was known for truthfulness and his sense of justice," said his wife, the former Janet South. "He had a sharp wit and a sharp sense of humor."

Once when he fined a young man for some infraction and the man told the judge he couldn't pay the fine because he couldn't find a job, Kenny told him, "This is Wildwood; it's the middle of the summer. You think W.O.R.K. is a radio station."

An example of his consideration for others was when he arranged for two elderly ladies, former missionaries, to remain in their house for three years after they sold it. They used the purchase price to pay for a trip around the world, and, when they returned, turned the house over to the purchaser.

"He loved birds and nature, wild animals, trees, marshes. We were bird watchers," his wife said. "He was a fruit and vegetable snob. If it didn't come from New Jersey farms, he didn't want it."

On their cross-country motorcycle excursions, Kenny would start the journey and Janet, who couldn't get enough time off from her job as operating room nurse at the Cape Regional Medical Center to ride with him, would fly to some destination like Denver, meet him and ride with him on his bike on tours of the Western landscape, then get back on the plane and head for home.

Kenny liked to boat out to Champagne Island off North Wildwood. It is actually little more than a sandbar, but he enjoyed it so much he was called the "Mayor of Champagne Island."

"He loved cruising. He loved the sun and the sand," his wife said.

Kenny received his law degree from the University of Toledo, where he met his wife, who was studying nursing. "We met at a dance," she said. "He was a really smooth dancer. I was hooked."

Besides his wife, he is survived by a daughter, Kristen Andre; a son, Matthew Calloway; a brother, Ross Calloway, his mother, and four grandchildren.

Services: 10 a.m. Monday at the Radzieta Funeral Home, 9 Hand Ave., Cape May Court House. Kenny's favorite music from the '50s will be played, and his son will bring a basket of fresh Jersey vegetables.

Contact John F. Morrison at 215-854-5573 or morrisj@phillynews.com, or on Twitter @johnfmorrison.

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