Peter G. Callas Jr., Trenton journalist

Posted: May 08, 2014

Peter G. Callas Jr. had lived with muscular dystrophy since it was diagnosed when he was in eighth grade.

"There have been times," his wife, Toni, recalled, when "he literally would be walking into the building at work, fall down on his face, get up, go to the hospital, come back, and continue working."

But then, in 1994, Mr. Callas was exercising on a treadmill while home alone when he fell off, she said, and "his legs were cramped for two hours," until she returned.

"He could never walk again," she said.

Mr. Callas used an electric scooter, then a wheelchair, and had to get to his office on a freight elevator because the building lacked another functioning elevator.

On Saturday, May 3, Mr. Callas, 54, of Hamilton Township, managing editor of the Trenton Times from 1997 to 2009, died of complications from muscular dystrophy at his home.

Michael Topel, an assistant metro editor at the Times when Mr. Callas was metro editor, recalled that Mr. Callas "was a very detail-oriented editor who wanted reporters to go the extra mile."

Topel, now an editor for Digital First Media in New York, said Mr. Callas "was interested in really great journalism, but also interested in building a great newsroom community."

Born in Hoboken, Mr. Callas graduated from Cresskill High School in Bergen County in 1977 when, his wife said, a county organization named him Bergen County Athlete of the Year, though he had been unable to play for any of his high school teams.

"He won the award," she said, "because he was, for so many games, the stats keeper" for his school's teams.

Mr. Callas earned a bachelor's degree in public relations, cum laude, in 1981 at Utica (N.Y.) College.

But two of his college summers were interrupted by stays at the Hospital for Experimental Surgery in New York, his wife said, "because his shoulders were sloping and he couldn't stand up straight."

Mr. Callas began his journalism career in college, with an internship at the Bergen Record. He was a copy editor when he began his 25-year career with the Trenton paper in 1984.

He became assistant night city editor, Princeton editor, and city editor before becoming metro editor in 1988.

Each June, he opened his home to all the paper's staffers for a summer solstice party.

"There were 50 to 100" at the parties, his wife said, "and they stayed to all hours of the night."

Toni Callas, a former education reporter for The Inquirer, was an education reporter for the Trenton newspaper from 1989 to 1998, though, she said, she never worked directly for Mr. Callas. They married in 2001.

After leaving the paper, Mr. Callas operated PGC Communications, a public relations firm in Allentown, N.J. He was a board member of the Progress Center for Independent Living in Trenton and a member of advisory committees, in Hamilton Township and Mercer County, focused on people with disabilities.

Besides his wife, Mr. Callas is survived by two brothers and a sister.

A visitation was set from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. and 3 to 6 p.m. Thursday, May 8, at the Peppler Funeral Home, 114 S. Main St., Allentown, N.J., before a 6 p.m. memorial service there.

Donations may be sent to the Peter G. Callas Memorial Golf Day for MDA, Suite 1210, 11800 Sunrise Valley Dr., Reston, Va. 20191.

Condolences may be offered to the family at www.pepplerfh.com.


wnaedele@phillynews.com

610-313-8134 @WNaedele

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