What started out as a typical winter’s morning on January 12, 1998, quickly turned into disaster and forever changed the lives of a community.
Not yet 30 years of age, John P. Kalaman, a five-year officer for the Centerville Police Department, was struck and killed by a car as he was responding to a traffic accident on Interstate 675. Also killed was Washington Township Firefighter Robert O’Toole.
“Knowing that the accident would require a significant amount of time, he volunteered to take the call so that another officer, whose shift was about to end, could go home. That’s the type of person he was,” said Steve Walker, chief of the Centerville Police Department. “It’s the worst tragedy involving personnel in this department’s history.”
Not letting his tragic death overcome all the good that he accomplished and stood for, his family and fellow officers established the John P. Kalaman Memorial Scholarship Fund through The Dayton Foundation.
“When John was killed, there was a tremendous outpouring of community support,” said his father, John A. Kalaman. “We went to The Dayton Foundation, because they are experienced with endowment funds and could help guide us in administering the scholarship.”
The fund awards three separate scholarships that assist graduating Centerville or Washington Township seniors, as well as immediate family members of active or retired Centerville police officers, with their college or trade school education.
Since 1999, 14 scholarships totaling $31,000 have been awarded. “Our goal is to grow the fund to where we can offerfour-year renewable scholarships,” Mr. Kalaman said.
The success of this fund would not be possible, however, if it wasn’t for the tireless efforts of the Centerville community and its police force. Each year they rally together to host the Officer John P. Kalaman Memorial Golf Tournament, raising nearly $140,000 for the scholarship fund to date.
There is no mistaking that the event is a Centerville Police Department-inspired golf tournament. Participants are greeted by police cruisers stationed at the front gates, and police officers carry their clubs to the course. At one of the holes officers are positioned with a laser gun, typically used to clock speeding cars, to measure longest drives.
Approximately 50 individuals volunteer on the committee and the day of the event, and dozens of businesses sponsor holes or donate prizes for the silent auction. Active and retired police officers, as well as their spouses, assist at the event, many of whom use vacation time or report to the course immediately after their shift.
“We lost a son, but we feel like we have gained dozens of new family members,” said Paula Kalaman, John P. Kalaman’s mother. “We can’t thank the volunteers enough for all their hard work.”
The men and women of the police force truly are good people, according to Mr. Kalaman. “They don’t become police officers for the car chases or gun fights. They are compassionate individuals who want to help others. That’s what John was all about, too,” he said.
This year marks the seventh annual golf tournament, pig roast and silent auction. It will be held on September 20 at The Golf Club at Yankee Trace located in Centerville.
“John died so young, but this fund keeps his dreams alive,” Paula Kalaman said. “It’s up to us to keep his legacy alive.”
Since 1999, 48 scholarships totaling $246,000 have been awarded to help Centerville and Washington Township seniors, as well as immediate family members of active or retired Centerville police officers, further their education.