John McCalla
Memorial website in the memory of your loved one
This memorial website was created in the memory of our loved one, John McCalla who was born in Pennsylvania on January 30, 1968 and passed away on January 05, 2007 in the McCallarama neighborhood of D.C. at the age of 38. We will remember him forever.

But in case you need a place to come for some visual reminders and funny John stories, here's the campiest site at Camp Campy. He'd have loved the Princess Di font and visuals, don't you think? Please don't hesitate to send pictures, stories, favorite John columns and articles, dance mixes, videos etc. to the site administrator. It's a multi-media empire we're creating here, right Mr. McCalla?  

***Help us fill in the blanks on John's timeline. Although it seems as if I knew him for a lifetime, I only have three years worth of stuff to include with accuracy. Nicole and I would like to know when John came into your life and lit it up. Dates please. You can click on the timeline and send your submission to the editor. GO! **************

Tributes and Condolences
Happy Birthday   / Franny (friend)
So I'm a day late.  So what.  I thought it was today until I came to this site and saw that it was yesterday.  45.  45 used to be old.  I'm going to be 52 and sometimes I think where did the time go?  But we would be 45 ...  Continue >>
It feels like yesterday, the pain is still so deep   / Nicole Escobar (baby angel )
Uncle John, your unexpected death almost destroyed me. I am not in denial but I have not yet accepted it. I still find it hard every day to deal with the loss of you. Then I remember that you would have wanted me to live my life and live for me, i...  Continue >>
john  / Marcio Sene (friend)
I was just thinking about John today. Miss him >looking at his pictures now...I know he's in a better place...
not something teen   / Franny (playmate)
I still remember that turning 20 was a big deal.  It meant not being something teen anymore.  My son turned 20 this year as did and will some of his friends.  That is my birthday wish to them.  Congrats!  You are not somethin...  Continue >>
what a web   / Annette Earling (friend)
just finished reading charlotte's web to my now 7yo...john knew calvin when he was weensy and he would definitely approve of the quirky funny kid that he's growing into. in any case the last paragraph of the book made me catch my breath and it felt a...  Continue >>
one more time?  / Frank Quesada (cyber friend )    Read >>
Miss, Long  / Amanda L.     Read >>
I'm almost 49  / Franny     Read >>
Costa Rica  / Erin Killian     Read >>
John I guess I know you a bit  / Marcio Sene     Read >>
Satellite / Amanda     Read >>
What Would John DO?  / Nicole (Soul Mate )    Read >>
The Last Act  / Amanda     Read >>
Glory Days  / Amanda     Read >>
Auld Lang Sign  / Franny     Read >>
More tributes and condolences...
Click here to pay tribute or offer your condolences
His legacy
All happening  
... from the final entry on John's blog in August, when we both decided these damn blogs were just plain silly Just back from P-town. It's all happening. Tired old obsessions are lifted, love has resumed its proportionate place in the universe and I'm finally comfortable enough to live in the present. I thank Alanis, Coldplay, U2, Stars and Peaches for lifting the gloom at long last. Running under city trees, blaring music, appreciating words and savoring the good people in my life are much more interesting endeavors than longing. At least for now.
More fan mail that I'm just now finding  
Did a quick Google on John today (don't ask, sometimes the self-inflicted slaps to my heart are better than numbness and vague memories of him) and this popped up in the top five.

From Philly:

and to Philly from silly me:

(that picture is a doozy -- gets me every time.)
WBJ Moments  
Washington Business Journal has a tradition within the newsroom for reporters and editors to share their "Washington Business Journal" with us before they leave. John left too soon, so we collected our favorite moments of him, an impossible editing task to narrow it to one, to run in his paper. The following ran in the January 12 issue of the paper.

John and I shared a love of travel. Preferably shortish trips strung together at the last possible moment, with details like accommodations left up in the air. I had several opportunities to test him — “So, I’m thinking about going to Costa Rica on Thursday. Is that OK?” Invariably, the answer was yes. He always had better stories than me, though. And better travel options, too. For a while, his partner worked in the airline industry. He got free travel, as long as he flew standby. As a consequence, he was always getting “stuck” in exotic locales for an extra day or two. If it’s OK, I’m just going to pretend he’s “stuck” in Rio for a while.
— Adam Brecher, researcher and reporter

I only knew John for a short time, and yet he made me feel so comfortable, so fast. We’d been talking on the phone and e-mailing for months before I started at the paper. The first day we met face to face, we both laughed and said at the same time, ‘I feel like we should hug each other!’ I knew at that moment, I’d found the right home. Now, I just feel cheated.
— Elizabeth Drachman, managing editor

“Joe, we’re going to lean on you.”
That’s what John said last year right after he told me I was being promoted. Sheesh. Thanks, man, don’t even let me enjoy the moment.
But John, are you kidding? You’ve been leaning on me and everyone else here since I arrived three years ago. Always pushing us to make an extra phone call, to dig a little further, to “have fun with it” and dress up our stories a little more.
And we’re all better people for it.
Hey, John. You may not have realized it, but we leaned on you, too. A lot.
— Joe Coombs, senior reporter

“A good story can be a loop or a cover.”
That was one of the many pieces of amazing advice that John gave me over the past three years. As my editor, he taught me how to be a more aggressive, skeptical and passionate journalist. John was also a wonderful friend, a constant reminder to me about the importance of being loyal and possessing integrity. He’s made me a better journalist, and an even better person. John’s life was certainly way too brief, but boy oh boy was it full of depth.
— Neil Adler, staff reporter

Covered in glitter, John and I held homemade “You Bop” posters above our heads at Wolf Trap, as Ms. Lauper took to the stage. He made me do my Cyndi dance (high stepping, imaginary-skirt lifting) when we sang “Girls Just Wanna Have Fun” and I made him cry during “True Colors.”
We bopped.
John and I were in sync in our crazy, unspoken desires -- from wanting see Cyndi Lauper live in 2004 to wanting to rewind to that instant when we’d never seen Bill Maher or “Six Feet Under”, just so we could watch it again for the first time.
I’m having lots of rewind wishes now.
— Amanda Long, assistant managing editor

We were walking down 17th Street an evening last spring and John linked his arm in mine. Up ahead, we saw a handsome guy walking toward us and John separated from me and said, “O.K., give him eye contact and I will too and we’ll find out if he’s gay.” The guy walked by and checked me out, and after he passed we exploded with laughter. “Straight!” John had an infectious laugh, but he had a sharper wit. I couldn’t keep up, even though he always said he was the gay male version of me. He was my mentor, my friend and my counselor. John, I love you. And I’ll miss you terribly.
— Erin Killian, staff reporter

After my first few months here, a prominent developer was upset about a story I wrote and called all the powers-that-be at WBJ to complain about my inaccurate and shoddy work.
John McCalla sent me an IM: “c’mere.”
I was scared, and trying to organize my thoughts so I could make John understand my side of the story.
When we sat down, John’s first words to me were: “Don’t worry, tell me what happened and we can work it out together.”
John was the kind of guy who unwaveringly and unquestioningly stood by his people.
— Prabha Natarajan, staff reporter

I once wrote a story describing a developer as wearing a “trendy three-button suit.” John, my Prada shoe-wearing, Hugo Boss-loving editor, tossed the sentence. To him, a three-button suit was neither trendy nor worth noting. I argued that it set the developer apart from other downtown businessmen, but we ended up spiking the phrase. I had learned my lesson: My khaki slacks, Old Navy button downs and I were never going to win a fashion argument with John.
— Doug Fruehling, senior editor

“Shock and Awe” is the title of my fondest memory John. At the DCCC Gala, my colleagues and I were thoroughly involved with people watching until I made the “mistake” of standing up from the table. My Alma Mater had a table of students, who then rushed over to greet me. After general introductions were made, to my horror, several of them began to pitch stories to John with their “collegiate-zest.” John sincerely listened to each student and gave them his card without hesitation. After, John gave me his boyish grin and said “They’re great!” I have been in awe ever since.
— Erica LeBlanc, account executive

I really admired and respected John and wish I had gotten to know him better. I didn’t have many opportunities to interact with him personally, but the few times I did made me admire him more, for everything he was. As I sit at my desk, I can still hear his laugh ring through the newsroom, which would always make me smile even if I had no idea what the joke was. I guess I’ll count every time that happened as a John McCalla moment. And, I’ll hear him laugh as long as I’m here.
— Arjun Kashyap, researcher

John didn’t walk into a room. He spun, complete with cell phone squawking out the theme from “Six Feet Under.” He joked, yelled “Mwoo-ha-ha!” at big ideas and agitated us all with razor-sharp wit.
But just when you thought he shrugged everything off as a joke, he’d thank you. “I’m so grateful,” he’d write in a message with a sincerity, depth and sheer gratitude that revealed the serious, caring John that hid beneath. It was gone in a flash, but when the joking started again, you’d find yourself laughing all the harder.
John, I’m so grateful, and I’ll miss you dearly.
— Jennifer Nycz-Conner, staff reporter

“I think you’re fabulous, and I want to get to know you better,” John told me one happy hour evening, five months into my job.
“John thinks I’m fabulous,” I repeated to my husband, excitedly, ad nauseum, that night.
Fabulous for John meant smart. It meant merciless wit. It meant slicing through bull and biting into meat. It meant being real. And it meant so much to me, who’ll forever strive for those things, giddy with validation from a man who already naturally was. And more.
John, I think you’re fabulous.
And I wish, so wish, I got the chance to know you better.
— Vandana Sinha, staff reporter

I met John in front of a hotel in Washington. We’d finished up an hour-long panel on source development. We both needed a smoke. It was the first of many great conversations about journalism. It was also the first of countless smoke breaks. We grew to be good friends. He mentored me as a reporter and an editor. When I finally stopped smoking, John told me he was sad to lose his smoking buddy, but that he was happy for me. He just wanted me to succeed. I couldn’t have stopped smoking without his encouragement.
— Roger Hughlett, news editor

I relished the fun of John’s cleverly turned phrases.
“Random thoughts” on waiting included: “I’ll stay in the theater and wait for ‘Marie Antoinette’ to end if Sofia Coppola promises to wait for a script before she shoots her next movie.”
On corporate casual: “It’s boring. … You try to upscale it. You try to tailor it. You try to compensate with Prada. In the end, you still look more ready for a spelling bee than the boardroom.”
His last day at work John wore a dark suit, sharp blue tie and crisp white straight-collar shirt with cuff links.
— Chuck Springston, news editor

Life was always more fun with John around. After last year’s holiday party, John convinced a reporter and his wife to take a few of us back to their condo, where the small upper-level quickly became a dance floor. But the night wasn’t over, and when the hosts called it quits, John led me and another to one last bar before closing. John was always pushing for one last stop, one more source, one more round of calls to get a better page-one story. He lived life no-holds-barred, and we’d all be better off for following his lead.
— Ben Hammer, staff reporter

I loved that John shared the photos of his travels with me. He even at times used a Holga camera to get a little more creative. He loved it when I showed him how a simple crop could strengthen an image he wasn’t happy with. After one of his trips to South Beach he e-mailed a photo of a building sign he had taken. I took the liberty of doing some creative cropping and put it on my desktop. He came over and looked at it and said, “Wow, is that my photo?” 
I loved his creativity, his wit, his spirit. He has simply left us heartbroken.
— Joanne Lawton, staff photographer

I’m going to miss John’s baby-blue eyes. As clear as they were they were never blank and with a flicker he could stop me in my sentence or make me laugh uncontrollably. His eyes kept me on my toes. They made sure what I was about to say was clever. They sympathized with my boredom at mundane meetings. They smiled at me every morning as he dashed by my desk with a wink and wave. I am going to miss them most... but I’m lucky because when I close my eyes I can still see them, vivid and bright.
— Hili Banjo, design editor

John is who makes kids think smoking makes them cool. It didn’t make him cool, of course — confidence and pretty blue eyes and snarky wit and a magical gift with words did that.
But a guy like that makes other people think that if they do what he does, they’ll be what he is.
When he first came to WBJ, he sat next to me. He flashed those eyes, reeked of cigarette smoke, sent me snarky e-mails and popped Altoids.
And I thought, “Too cool to work next to. I’ll never get anything done again.”
— Lucy Webb, staff reporter Near the end of a long and complicated pregnancy, I was in a car accident that could have been awful. My first call, as I stood on the Clara Barton Parkway waiting for the ambulance, was to John, my managing editor and the man who needed to know that I wouldn’t be into work that day. “Why are you calling me, silly girl?” he asked. “Go take of yourself and your baby. “I got your back.” He did. Again. And always. — Beth Hunt, former editor The combination of John’s dry wit and hilarious (and devious) sense of humor made hanging out with him a blast. One night a few months ago, my partner and I were leaving a stand-up comic’s show at the Warner Theater, when we ran into John and his best friend, Amanda. We talked to them for a long while there on the sidewalk, and ended up laughing as much — if not more — than we had during the comedy show. — Scott Ward, account executive
More of his legacy...
John's Photo Album
P-town ghost, 2006 trip
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