Bo Callaway, part of the prominent Callaway family of Georgia, was elected in 1964 as the first Republican congressman from Georgia since 1875. Two years later he ran in the gubernatorial election of 1966, in an unsuccessful attempt to become the state’s first Republican governor since 1872.
Howard Hollis Callaway was the third child of Virginia Hollis Hand, of Pelham, and Cason Jewell Callaway. Born in LaGrange on April 2, 1927, Callaway attended public schools in LaGrange and Hamilton and graduated from a private high school in Virginia. He attended the Georgia Institute of Technology in Atlanta in 1944-45 and graduated from the U.S. Military Academy at West Point, New York, in 1949. After completing his military obligations in 1952, Callaway returned home to Georgia in 1953 to help his father develop and run Callaway Gardens. Callaway married Elizabeth Walton in 1949, and the couple had five children.
In the state’s Democratic bifactional politics in the 1950s and early 1960s, Callaway had supported the Eugene Talmadge faction. He switched to the Republican Party in 1964 and actively supported Republican presidential candidate Barry M. Goldwater. In the same year he also ran for public office for the first time, winning a congressional race. Callaway compiled a conservative voting record during his one term in the U.S. House of Representatives.
Callaway entered the governor’s race in 1966 as the Republican candidate against the Democratic nominee, Lester Maddox, who had upset the front-runner in the Democratic primary, former governor Ellis Arnall. Some voters, upset by the party nominees’ conservatism, supported a write-in effort on behalf of the more progressive Arnall. Callaway received a slim plurality in the general election but failed to win a majority of the votes because of the write-in. The state constitution required that a candidate receive a majority of the votes to be elected. It further provided that the state legislature would elect the governor if no candidate received a majority vote in the general election. Both the U.S. Supreme Court and the Georgia Supreme Court upheld the legislature’s right to elect the next governor. The overwhelmingly Democratic legislature subsequently elected Maddox.
Callaway moved to Colorado in the 1970s, serving as chairman and president of Crested Butte Mountain Resort. He was secretary of the army in the administrations of U.S. presidents Richard Nixon and Gerald Ford and headed President Ford’s 1976 campaign committee. In 1980 Calloway sought the Republican nomination to the U.S. Senate from Colorado but was narrowly defeated by Mary Estill Buchanan. In 1981 he became chairman of the Colorado Republican Party, a position he held for six years. Other public service activities included serving on the Republican National Committee, chairing the GOP action committee and the board of trustees of the Freedom’s Foundation at Valley Forge, and serving on the board of directors of the free Congress Foundation.
Return to Callaway Gardens
Callaway returned to Callaway Gardens in 1993 and served as chair of the Ida Cason Callaway Foundation Board of Trustees. His other business activities included membership on numerous corporate boards. He also served as vice president of the state chamber of commerce, president and chief executive officer of Interfinancial, Inc., and international president of the Young Presidents Organization.
Callaway died on March 15, 2014, at the age of eighty-six.