MuskogeePhoenix.com, Muskogee, OK

Local News

October 13, 2013

He puts his heart into helping others

Septuagenarian's blood donations exceed 30 gallons

At age 78, Paul Callas has a great heart.

The heart pumps type O negative blood, making him a universal blood donor. Over the past 59 years, he has given blood 244 times.

The heart is strong, enabling Callas to play several games of softball with a Tulsa team each week.

The heart is caring. Callas used to work with his church’s jail ministry and later a ministry at Muskogee’s prerelease center, which is now closed.

Callas said he keeps his heart healthy by working and walking.

“I do a lot of outside work at the house,” he said. “And I go to the Christian Life Center at First Baptist Church. It has an indoor walking trail, and I go there three to four times a week. I’ve got to keep my legs up, and walking is about as good an exercise as you can do. It keeps me going.”

Callas has kept going since he grew up in Enid, the son of a Greek immigrant.

“My father came to the United States when he was 17,” he said. “His brother was in Blackwell, but they were run out by the KKK in the 1920s.”

Callas was born in Alva, but the family moved to Enid early in his life.

“Mom and Dad had a restaurant during the Dust Bowl,” he said.

He graduated from Enid High School and enrolled in Phillips University. It was just as the Korean War was winding down.

“I volunteered for the draft, joined the Army and ended up in Austria and Italy,” Callas said. “I spent the first six months in Austria, when they signed the peace agreement.”

The treaty, which granted independence to Austria, involved the United States, France, Great Britain and the Soviet Union.

While stationed in Italy, Callas managed to visit his father’s homeland and got to meet his uncle and cousins.

After his discharge, he got into the real estate business.

Callas came to Muskogee in the early 1960s to be a recreational therapist at the Jack C. Montgomery VA Medical Center.

He retired in the 1980s but kept active.

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