In Memory of




Obituary for John R. Calo

John Raymond Calo, 86, of Kingsford, Mich., died peacefully on Thursday, February 6, 2020, in Green Bay, Wis., while on a day-trip with his wife Mary.

The son of the late Pietro and Graziella (Vitale) Calo, John was born on March 26, 1933, in Iron Mountain, Mich. The family moved to Iron Mountain in 1926 where his father opened a tailor and furrier business. (John liked to tell people he was “tailor-made.”) He was born in the family home on West A Street, the baby of the family. He attended Iron Mountain Schools, graduating from Iron Mountain High School in 1951.
John attended Northern Michigan University in Marquette from 1951-1955, studying Music Education and Voice. After graduation, he accepted a job offer in South Bend, IN. But plans changed when the KHS principal and superintendent and John’s long-time friend IMHS music teacher Wally Swanson came to his home and convinced him to take a position at Kingsford High School instead. He would go on to teach vocal and instrumental music at KHS for 35 years until his retirement in 1990. Teaching was his passion. He was dedicated to excellence and many students said they considered him one of the most influential teachers they ever had. He enjoyed being approached by former students; if you stopped him on the street he might not recall your name but he always remembered your vocal range or what instrument you played.
John married Mary Dougoveto of Kingsford on August 28, 1964. They raised five children on Hamilton Avenue, allowing John to walk across the street to work each day. Theirs was a musical home and a highlight for the Calo family was the year they hosted Bernd Rosenschon, a German foreign exchange student and superior clarinetist. John loved having Bernd in his band, and John and Mary always considered him another son.

During retirement, John enjoyed keeping in touch with all of his Facebook friends, golfing, watching Packer games, and directing the annual family sing-along after the ravioli dinner on Christmas Day. He faithfully recognized every family member’s birthday by phoning them to sing “Happy Birthday” and by sending a silly e-card. We all enjoyed his long and happy retirement.

The essence of John’s life was his love for his family, music and theater. His contributions to our community included many years as Conductor of the Dickinson County Area Band, as Director of the American Martyrs Church Choir and 20 years as Conductor of the Dickinson County Community Chorus. If you caught the Ciao Bella Trio (consisting of John, his niece Carmela and his best friend Bob Pedo) at Out to Lunch or at the Italian Fest, you were in for a treat. The Dickinson County Community Theater, the Lion’s Roar, Piccolo Opera Company, the Pine Mountain Music Festival, and several local barbershop quartets benefited from his talents as well.

John had a deep devotion to his Catholic faith and was proud to have seen Pope St. John XXIII in person in 1962. (He said that Good Pope John stood up for the “little guy”). He prayed every night, on his knees, for his wife, children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren, each of them by name. He expressed his love for others daily in his smiles and corny jokes. He simply was the most affable man a person could meet.

John is survived by Mary, his wife of 56 years, and five children, Celeste (Nicholas) Malone of Iron Mountain, Cecilia (Frank) Smith of Iron Mountain, Anthony (Cathy) Calo of Green Bay, Wis., Monica (Will) Shampo of Weaverville, NC, and Jay (Liz) Calo of Grand Haven, Mich. He bragged about his 22 grandchildren, Maxwell (Karla), Hannah (Lindsay), Molly, Frank IV (Gabrielle), August, Sophie, Charles, JonPaul, Benjamin, Jack Henry, Jason (Nicole), Julia, Sarah, Zoe (Teddy), Willa, Maia, John Francis, Clare, Luke, Avery and Addison; and 3 great-grandchildren, Roman, Emma and Shoshanna.

He is also survived by his in-laws, John (Sharon) Dougoveto, Ann (Tom) Martin, Lu (Bernie) Menghini, and Therese (Tom) Gross and their children, as well as nieces and nephews, Carmela Altobelli, Michelle (Buck) Wilkins, Grace (Woody) Tullis, Pete (Cecs) Altobelli, Elizabeth (Dick) Voelzke, Paula, Peter and Mickey (Cheryl) Calo, and Carla (Larry) Bolek, and their children and grandchildren.

In addition to his parents, he was preceded in death by three brothers, Carlo, Mike, and Henry, their spouses, a sister, Amalia (Molly) Altobelli, an infant brother Carlo and an infant granddaughter Grace Shampo.

Visitation will be Wednesday, February 12, 2020, from 4:00 p.m. until 7:00 p.m. at the Jacobs Funeral Home, Iron Mountain. A time of reflection with sharing by family and friends will take place Wednesday, 6:45 p.m. at the funeral home. Prayers will be recited Thursday, February 13, at 10:30 a.m. at the Jacobs Funeral Home. The Mass of Christian Burial will be celebrated Thursday, February 13, 11:00 a.m. at American Martyrs Catholic Church, Kingsford. Rev. Fr. Joseph Gouin will officiate. Burial will be at Cemetery Park, Iron Mountain.

A memorial will be established in John’s memory.

Dad, we will miss your gentle way, your soft and sensitive nature; your jokes and puns that made us groan. Sully’s gonna miss his golfing buddy, Aunt Ann will miss her dancing partner at family weddings, and the chorus will miss your beautiful tenor voice--and “African Alleluia.” “Cent’ Anni” was your favorite Italian toast meaning “May you live 100 years.” Sadly, we didn’t get to have you that long, but we will take the 86 years we did have and be forever grateful for them.

You may leave a condolence or tribute for John’s family online at

The family has chosen the Jacobs Funeral Home and Cremation Services, Iron Mountain, Mich., to honor John’s legacy of life.