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She Left Her Fingerprints on Clearwater

Sherri Callahan, 45, died June 2 and left a legacy of leadership in Clearwater.

Sherri Callahan was many things to many people.

She was a devoted mother and girlfriend. She was a good friend and a confidant.  But to the city of Clearwater, she was a community liaison. 

Callahan took a large role in the organizing of Clearwater’s Jazz Holiday each year. She took great pride in the four day event.

Mayor Frank Hibbard considered her a friend. They spent a lot of time working together preparing for the Jazz Holiday and then more time during it. Hibbard reveled at her unwavering passion and constitution.

He remembered poking fun at her at the end of a long day because her hard work had left her looking tattered and worn. 

“You get taught from a very early age that there are some things you just don’t say,”  Hibbard said.  “I knew Sherri was different, she took things for what they were. She had a sense of humor.”

But what other volunteers may not have known was that Callahan had long suffered from Rheumatoid arthritis. It was a condition that left her exhausted, swollen and sore after long days on her feet. In spite of her condition, Callahan always kept on and never complained.

“She was so enthusiastic,” Hibbard said. “Everybody she came in contact with, she always gave them her best.”

Callahan, 45, died June 2 and left large shoes to fill for the community. She was diagnosed with pneumonia a couple weeks earlier and doctors placed her in a medically induced coma.

She played a large part with the Clearwater Regional Chamber of Commerce.

“Sherri always had that intangible ability to make you feel special," said Bob Clifford, president of the chamber. "Her goal was to always make sure that your expectations were exceeded."

Jazz Holiday wasn’t the only event Callahan had a hand in organizing. She also helped put together Artistic Tastings. A fundraiser where guests sample fine wine and food. The event was held on June 3; just a day after Sherri’s passing.

“It [was] a hard day for all of us,” Hibbard said. “Her finger prints were all over it.”

The event raised $16,000 for her children; Bailey, 12 and Madison, 11. 

More than 500 people came to Grace Christian Fellowship to remember her at a ceremony June 4.

"Sherri was a tireless worker seeking perfection in all her endeavors," Clifford said.

Survivors include: a son Bailey; daughter Madison; father Gerry Pankow; sisters Heather Williams, Susan Moss and Kathryn Pankow; and brother Rich Pankow.

A fund for Callahan's children is established at USAmeribank. Donations can be sent to the Sherri Callahan Memorial Trust, attention Jeanette Renfrow; 1617 Gulf-to-Bay Blvd, Clearwater, FL 33755.

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