Callon CEO remembered

Published 12:05 am Friday, May 26, 2017


NATCHEZ — With the death of Fred Callon, friends and family say Natchez has lost more than a business leader — the community has lost a guardian angel.

The CEO and chairman of the of the oil and gas exploration company bearing his family’s name and headquartered in Natchez died unexpectedly Wednesday night on a business trip in Denver. He was 67.

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“Fred was truly someone God put on this earth to make an example,” family friend and former Callon Petroleum Company employee Charles Goodson said Thursday.

Goodson joined the company in 1980 and worked there until 1985 when he started his own oil exploration company in Lafayette, La. Since then Goodson and his wife have remained close to Callon and his family.

“I have known Fred for 37 years,” Goodson said. “Fred was always kind, gentle and always more concerned about everyone else than himself.”

Former Callon Petroleum CFO Bob Weatherly agreed.

“Fred has to rank up there as the nicest man, most creditable businessman and most caring man I have known,” Weatherly said. “He is one of the few men I have been around who never disappointed.”

Weatherly worked as CFO under Callon’s leadership from 2006-2015. Since then Weatherly has continued to work as the corporate secretary.

Weatherly said Callon had the ability to get the best out of people.

“He made them feel appreciated and instilled confidence,” Weatherly said.

Callon’s youngest daughter Lauren said her father always had a smile on his face.

“People would joke that (my dad) was a saint and an angel walking this earth, but that is the truth,” Lauren Callon said about her father. “He was genuine, fair and kind to every person he met.”

Fred Callon had been the chairman of the board of directors since 2004 and president and CEO since 1997. He was the son of Callon Petroleum’s co-founder Sim C. Callon and nephew of its other founder John S. Callon.

The company is publicly traded on the New York Stock Exchange under the symbol “CPE.”

Natchez businessman David Paradise said Fred Callon demonstrated his leadership skills grounded in kindness, generosity and selflessness at an early age.

Paradise said he and Fred Callon were very close friends, classmates from the first grade until graduation from Natchez High School.

“He was like that in the seventh and eighth grade,” Paradise said. “Fred always stayed involved and did what was best for others. He always kept us straight. He never changed.”

Paradise said he particularly admired Fred Callon’s ability to choose compassion over anger.

“Even if he was mad, Fred always could find a way to be kind,” Paradise said. “That is something you don’t find in a lot of folks — something I always found so admirable.”

Paradise said Fred Callon cared for the community by working behind the scenes to offer his assistance.

“People sought him and listened to his counsel,” Paradise said. “He always gave great advice.”

Natchez attorney and family friend Philip Carby said Fred Callon’s loss would be felt across Natchez and beyond.

“He was an essential part of his family, the oil industry, his church and the entire community,” Carby said.

Fred Callon was a member of Trinity Episcopal Church and served as treasurer of the vestry for many years.

Carby said Fred Callon had the ability to remain focused and optimistic.

“He was one of the most unfailingly positive and helpful people I have run across,” Carby said. “I joked with him once that he must be the least pretentious oil field CEO around.”

Randy Smith attended high school with Fred and most recently helped train many of Callon Petroleum’s employees in the oil field. Smith said Fred Callon’s death will be felt on many levels, most importantly by his family — a view shared by others.

“He was a great father, grandfather and a great leader for his company,” Smith said.

Lauren Callon said her father will be missed by many people.

“We were blessed to have him as long as we did,” Lauren said. “He will be missed by us all.”

Fred Callon leaves behind his wife, Karen, and his children Amy Callon Jones, Heather Callon, Lindsey Callon and Lauren Callon.

Arrangements under the direction of Laird Funeral Home are incomplete.