Sanford H. Calhoun



Calhoun at desk

Sanford H. Calhoun was the first employee when the Bellmore-Merrick Central High School District was formed (originally as Central high School District #3). Starting with only the dream of the best possible high school, he started the work, literally, from the ground up.

Mr. Calhoun was born in Troy, NY on October 31, 1902. After receiving his Bachelor of Science degree from St. Lawrence University in 1926, he served for four years as Supervising Principal in Coeymans, NY, and for five years as Supervising Principal of Pierson High School in Sag Harbor, NY.

For two years after coming to Bellmore-Merrick in 1935, he presided over the first district school, a small wooden school house with fewer than 200 seats. He supervised the planning and construction of W.C. Mepham High School, which opened in September 1937 with 741 students and 31 teachers and he remained the administrative head of the district until his retirement.

From April 1943 to February 1946 Mr. Calhoun interrupted his work in the district to serve in the U.S. Army Air Force. His service was divided between St. Louis University, Miami Beach, Washington & Lee University, Maxwell Field, Ala., and Madison, Wisconsin. Proving the adage that a good teacher can teach anything, regardless of how far the subject may be from his major field, Mr. Calhoun spent considerable time with the Air Force as supervisor in charge of training civilian instructors to teach Radio Operating and Mechanics.

Later, Mr. Calhoun was Material Distribution Planning Officer at Madison, Wisconsin, in charge of improving the educational opportunity for officers and enlisted men in all branches of the armed forces at home and abroad.

Mr. Calhoun was particularly proud of the faculty of real professional calibre which he assembled. Many of the early faculty members were later leaders in the school district. Mepham students gained an excellent reputation among colleges, and obtained more than their share of scholarships, a tradition which has continued to today. Although an athlete, Mr. Calhoun felt that not only athletes should receive recognition in the form of varsity letters, and so such honors were earned in academic fields.

As the district grew, with the addition of junior high schools, Mr. Calhoun became the District Principal, succeeded at Mepham, in 1954, by Dr. Frederick Stunt. Upon his announcement of retirement in 1956 the school board announced that it would name a new high school that was to be constructed the Sanford H. Calhoun High School. Mr. Calhoun served as a consultant for the design of other school buildings on Long Island until he again retired in 1962 and moved to Florida. He died there in January 1994.

On June 9, 1955 the Mepham High School held:

A Tribute to Sanford H. Calhoun

"An institution is the lengthened shadow of one man."
- Emerson

To us, to the members of the community and to the educational leaders of the state, you, Sanford H. Calhoun and Mepham are synonymous. For twenty years your ideals and your philosophy of education have been reflected in the standards, policies and achievements of the Mepham High School system.

You have always stood for the best in education. Although considered a traditionalist, you are blazing new trails in education through your multi-level program which challenges the varying abilities of the boys and girls of our schools.

Your integrity, your capacity for hard work, your ability to organize, your devotion to duty, your keen foresight and your courage to hold steadfastly to a principle or a policy which you believe to be for the best interest of the school, mark you as an exceptional administrator.

Using your many talents for organization and leadership, you give unstintingly of your time and effort, working with unswerving determination to attain your goals. Because you know the joy and satisfaction of doing a job well, you inspire those of us who work with you to strive always to do our best. Not only have you won the respect and admiration of professional colleagues, your students and the community, but also of other leaders in the field of education. You have gained much because you have given much.

You, Sanford H. Calhoun, are giving to our schools one of the greatest gifts-- yourself.

In recognition of your outstanding work in the organization and the administration of our schools, we congratulate you; in appreciation of your twenty years of unselfish and invaluable service and in anticipation of your continued leadership, we thank you-- Sanford H. Calhoun, administrator co-worker and friend.

"All work is as seed sown; it grows and spreads, and sows itself anew."
-Thomas Carlyle

This is excerpted from an unknown local newspaper after Mr. Calhoun retired in 1957.


Drawing on more than 30 years experience in the educational field, a Merrick man is now guiding aspects of school design in ll nearby schools for the architectural firm of Frederic P. Wiedersum Associates.

He is Sanford H. Calhoun, Educational Consultant and Project Manager for two senior high schools and four elementary schools, as well as four school additions, being built in the Farmingdale, Deer Park, and Lindenhurst areas.

Mr. Calhoun gained his experience and reputation in the educational field while he was principal of Mepham High School, and of Central High School District 3.

The building at Mepham is again in the news because of the Board of Education's plan to bring its capacity of 1250 students up to 1500 students, and to remodel and bring the 25 year old facilities up to modern standards.

The edifice was constructed in 1936-37, and was considered ahead of its time in design, gaining an excellent reputation for its architects, Frederic P. Wiedersum Associates. The same firm has been retained to develop the necessary planning and design for the added space needed in an area where the student population is jumping.

His work now keeps him attending Board meetings or other conferences on an average of three nights a week. As Project Manager, he serves as liaison between each board of education and its architects. He takes care of numerous details from the inception of the job until the day the new school is turned over to the school board.

Mr. Calhoun finds his new duties absorbing, and feels that his educational experiences have proven most valuable, and have enabled him to make a contribution in the field of school construction.

This is an obituary by Frances Kotlarz Walton '39
from Scuttlebutt, June 1994

Sanford H. Calhoun

October 31, 1901 - January 28, 1994

It is with deep sadness that I must start this newsletter with the announcement that our former principal, Sanford H. Calhoun, passed away on January 28, 1994. He died at home in Bradenton, Florida, after a long series of illnesses. He was entombed at the family plot in Union, New Jersey following a memorial service held on February 19 in Bradenton.

Sanford H. Calhoun came to the Bellmore-Merrick area in August, 1935. He was hired by the Board of Education as principal and administrator of Central High School District No. 3 and thereby became its first employee. His administrative/educational background has been well documented and publicized. His early personal life is not as well known.

Mr. Calhoun, the oldest of four children, began his love for music and the fine arts at an early age. His mother would often play piano in the evenings and invited anyone with an instrument to join in. He also sang in the Boys' Choir every Sunday in two of the large churches in Troy, New York, while his family held their membership in a small Methodist Church. His musical interest along with his involvement in sports followed him throughout his life.

Mr. Calhoun's principal at Troy High School encouraged him to further his education beyond high school. When he decided to go to St. Lawrence University, his Dad did not think he would be there very long because they did not have the financial means to support him through school. In his desire to learn, he worked at odd jobs to pay for his tuition. He majored in physics, mathematics and economics, subjects demanding for anyone, much less for someone working at the same time.

Along with academic achievements in college, he also enjoyed outside activities. He was a member of the College Glee Club and the St. Lawrence Quartet. He also shared his talents with the college orchestra as he mastered the violin. Athletics did not take a back seat to his music. He was a member of the freshman basketball squad and manager of the varsity baseball team. He graduated with a Bachelor of Science degree from St. Lawrence University in 1926.

He began his career in education as the supervising principal at Coeymans School near Albany, New York. After four years there, he accepted the position as supervising principal at Pierson High School in Sag Harbor, Long Island. During his five years at Pierson High, he completed his work at Columbia University and received a Master of Arts Degree.

Mr. Calhoun was setting the stage and building a reputation for his career at Wellington C. Mepham High School. In 1935, he became the first principal of this new high school in Bellmore-Merrick and spent the next twenty-two years of his career as an educator, principal and administrator developing this school district.

He became involved in almost every facet of school activity. He set high standards in curriculum and extracurricular activities. He was tough but fair; strict, but he cared for his students. His students, in turn, highly respected him. The first graduating class of 1939 dedicated the yearbook, the Treasure Chest, to Mr. Calhoun for his loyalty and sincerity, along with his personality and perseverance. I was the editor of that year book and had remained a good friend over the years.

Mr. Calhoun interrupted his career in 1942 to serve his country during World War II in the U. S. Army Air Corps. He supervised the training of civilian instructors to teach radio operations to enlisted personnel. He attained the rank of Captain before returning to this area.

Upon his return to Mepham in 1946, along with his duties as principal, he became involved in planning for the expansion of the education facilities needed due to the tremendous population increase. Two new junior high schools opened in September, 1954, and he became principal of the district.

His staff once described him as a man with "integrity, a capacity for hard work, devotion of duty, keen foresight and the courage to hold steadfastly to his principles and inspire others to do their best." The outstanding achievements of the students of Mepham High School speak to the character and devotion of this fine man and to the teachers he inspired. In fact, upon his retirement in 1957, he was honored further with the naming of the strict's second high school after him: the Sanford H. Calhoun High School.

Mr. Calhoun married our English teacher Florence Wells; a marriage that lasted nineteen years until her death. After several years, he married his present wife, Olga, in 1963. Being the second marriage for both, they set out to enjoy one another and life by traveling extensively, along with keeping in touch with former students, teachers and administrators. (There were no children born to him in either marriage.) He and Olga traveled to the Orient and Europe several times and even attended the Olympic Games one year as he continued his love of sports and sports events.

They moved to Florida about nine years ago to escape the winters in New Jersey. Up until the last couple years, they would journey north for the summer months, enjoying fishing and visiting family and friends.

Their thirty plus years of marriage were happy years. He was a wonderful husband to Olga, and she stayed by his side as he became weaker and unable to keep up with his active lifestyle.

Mr. Calhoun was a self-made man who believed in helping others make the best of themselves, utilizing the gifts they possessed. He set high standards and goals for himself and others and therefore was a very accomplished person. He touched many, many people in his 92 years and he is greatly missed. All of us have been richly blessed by the life of Sanford H. Calhoun. So let us remember the joy when he shared his life with us. Rest in peace, our principal, our counselor, our friend.

Memories of Mr. Calhoun

by Dr. Frederick Stunt

I first met Mr.Calhoun in September 1928; he was the Principal of a small school, grades 1 thru 12 in Coeymans, NY, on the Hudson River about 15 miles south of Albany, and I was a 7th grader from a one room school a couple of miles to the north. By completing the 7th & 8th grades that year, in Sept.'29 I was in high school. Mr.Calhoun was my elementary algebra teacher. He also taught history, some science, directed a chorus and dramatics, and swept the gym floor when necessary; he also coached baseball.

He left Coeymans in June '30 and went to Sag Harbor as Principal, and stayed there to June 1935, when he came to Bellmore to start Central High School District No.3, and to begin Wellington C. Mepham High School.

From September '35 to June '37 classes met in a previously closed elementary building in Bellmore, while the Mepham building was being completed.

During the years from 1930 to'37 I had remained somewhat in touch with Mr. Calhoun. I was graduating from the New York State Teachers College in Albany in June, 1937. In December 1936 several graduating seniors went to the Principals Convention in Syracuse to meet and shake hands with as many of these possible "hirers" of teachers as we could. This resulted in Robert Margison, a classmate, and I going to Bellmore in March 1937 to be interviewed for a job teaching at Mepham. Sometime later we were both offered positions, I accepted, and Bob had, during the interval, accepted another position. He did come to Mepham in the fall of '38 and stayed until the army called in June '41.

Mr. Calhoun was truly my mentor. Under his supervision, I taught General Science, Mathematics, and Physics, became a Guidance counselor and Director, and Principal at Mepham High School.

He was my best man when Winifred and I were married, I was his best man when he and Olga were married. Our friendship and our close family ties spread over the 67 years we knew each other.

Calhoun Memorial Scholarship Fund Established

The Alumni Association has established a Sanford H. Calhoun Scholarship in his memory. If you wish to contribute to the fund, please send checks to the W. C. Mepham High School Alumni Association, Camp Avenue, Bellmore, NY 11710. Be sure to specify donation to "Calhoun Scholarship Fund."