University of South Alabama, Office of Public Relations
February 10, 2010
Contact: Jennifer Z. Ekman, Office of Public Relations, (251) 460-6360

Retired Congressman Sonny Callahan Named 2009 Mobilian of the Year
Retired U.S. Rep. Sonny Callahan
The Cottage Hill Civitan Club recently announced retired U.S. Rep. Sonny Callahan as the 2009 Mobilian of the Year. Callahan was a staunch support of USA during his time in elected office, including gaining funding for the USA Mitchell Cancer Institute. The Cottage Hill Civitan Club's event chairman Randy Eckhoff is pictured in the background. While USA is not involved in the selection process, it hosts and assists the club with the annual banquet, which will be held April 8 at the Mitchell Center.

The Cottage Hill Civitan Club has named retired U.S. Rep. H.L. "Sonny" Callahan as the 2009 Mobilian of the Year.

As Mobile's most prestigious civic honor, the Mobilian of the Year award has been given annually since 1948 to an individual who has made an extraordinary, positive impact on the Mobile community.

The Mobilian of the Year Banquet will be held on Thursday, April 8, at the University of South Alabama Mitchell Center. A cocktail reception begins at 6 p.m., with dinner at 7 p.m.

Randall "Randy" Eckhoff, Mobilian of the Year chairman for the Cottage Hill Civitan Club, said the Civitan Club is excited about the 2009 Mobilian of the Year award program.

"We are pleased at the selection of retired Congressman Sonny Callahan as the recipient of the Mobilian of the Year award for 2009," he said. "Sonny is a native of Mobile and has served the city and the region throughout his career as a local entrepreneur, a member of the Alabama State Legislature and Congress. We are looking forward to honoring him at the Mobilian of the Year banquet on April 8."

In 2007, USA joined the Cottage Hill Civitan Club as a partner in the event. USA is not involved in the selection process for the award, but hosts and assists with the annual banquet.

The Cottage Hill Civitan Club is an all-volunteer community service organization with emphasis on helping children and adults with intellectual and developmental disabilities. The club has many projects that it supports such as Mobile ARC, Augusta Evans Special School, and Cerebral Palsy summer camp, in addition to providing an annual scholarship to a student with intellectual and/or developmental disabilities that is attending a trade school, college or university. The Club raises funds for its community projects through the sale of Claxton Fruitcake, candy boxes at local restaurants or coin boxes at local business. The Mobilian of the Year banquet also provides funds to support the Club's community service projects.

Banquet tickets are available by contacting Randy Eckhoff at (251) 666-1973 or For more information, visit The tickets cost $65 each or $500 for a table of eight. The deadline for ticket sales is March 31.

Sonny Callahan: A Lifetime of Service to Mobile and the Region

From the cab of an 18-wheeler to a seat on one of the most influential committees in Congress, the road Sonny Callahan traveled to the nation's capital was never dull.

A native of Mobile, Callahan attended Alabama public schools and graduated from McGill Institute in Mobile. He attended the University of Alabama's Mobile Center, predecessor to the University of South Alabama. Callahan served in the U.S. Navy from 1950 to 1954. After his years in the Navy, he returned to Mobile to become a successful businessman. He owns Furniture Leasing Concepts (FLC Living) on Azalea Road in Mobile.

In 1970, he was elected to his first term in the Alabama House of Representatives, a position he held until his 1978 election to the Alabama Senate.

Throughout his 12-year tenure in the Alabama State Legislature, Callahan ensured that USA received its fair share of the state's education budget. In 1984, Callahan was elected to the first of his eight terms in the U.S. House of Representatives.

In Congress, Callahan represented more than a half-million people of Alabama's First District, which encompasses Baldwin, Clarke, Escambia, Mobile, Monroe and Washington counties.

In 1994, Callahan was named chair of the powerful House Appropriations Subcommittee on Foreign Operations, making him one of the "Cardinals," an honorary title bestowed on the Appropriations Subcommittee chairs who are among the most influential members of the House. During the six years he chaired this subcommittee, he worked with the administration and the Congress in protecting America's interests and investments around the world.

In 2000, he became the chairman of the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Energy and Water Development. This subcommittee is responsible for funding all civil projects of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers as well as portions of the Department of Interior, the Department of Energy and a number of independent agencies. In this position, Congressman Callahan worked closely with the Bush Administration to develop and finance a new national energy policy.

From his positions in the state legislature and Congress, Callahan contributed greatly to the city and region's cultural development. Throughout his public service and businesses, Callahan contributed to the fabric of the philanthropic, charitable and religious communities in Mobile and the region.

As a member of the U.S. House, he worked to gain tens of millions of dollars for USA's Mitchell Cancer Institute. The funding was vital in the creation of the upper Gulf Coast's only academic cancer research center.

Upon leaving Congress in 2003, Callahan launched Sonny Callahan & Associates, a consulting firm with offices in Mobile and Washington, D.C.

He and his wife, Karen, have six children and nine grandchildren.

Civitan International

Civitan International is devoted to improving the lives of children and adults with developmental disabilities. Civitan International Clubs enrich communities across the globe by sponsoring summer camps, vocational programs and Special Olympics. Civitan International Research Center focuses its scientific energies on developing cutting-edge treatments for autism, cerebral palsy and Alzheimer's disease.

The Cottage Hill Civitan Club

The Cottage Hill Civitan Club has worked with many local charities over the years. The group supports Augusta Evans Special School and the school's Special Olympics Weight-Lifting Team. It has also given time and resources to the Mulherin Home, United Cerebral Palsy's Camp Smile, Mobile ARC, Penelope House and Wilmer Hall Children's Home. The group also sponsors Junior Civitan clubs at local area high schools, training the next generation in civic involvement.

Since 1948, area Civitan clubs have championed civic involvement through the Mobilian of the Year award, the most prestigious and longest-running award in the region.

2816 Del Rio Road, West
Mobile, AL 36693
Contact: Randy Eckhoff, MOY Chairman
(251) 666-1973


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