James D. “Jimmy” Calnan

James D. “Jimmy” Calnan died peacefully at home on January 9, 2022 after a brief battle with Glioblastoma. Jimmy lived for more than 35 years after testing positive for HIV in August 1987. Jimmy had an indomitable spirit, forward-looking attitude and relentless generosity that he shared with people of all walks of life, always looking to include those who might feel they were on the outside. 

He was born on March 23, 1942 in New York City where he lived until relocating to Philadelphia in 1976. The son of the late James Calnan and Margaret Edna (nee Haslam) Calnan, he is survived by his husband, Rob Baker, his sister Eileen, brother-in-law Carl, nephew Michael, niece Debbie, and 3 great-nephews and 2 great-nieces.

After first teaching in New York, Jimmy worked for The School District of Philadelphia as a Transition Coordinator out of Gratz and Overbrook High School for many years. Jimmy found lots of places for students of special needs to gain work experiences. He is remembered fondly by many of his fellow teachers, and former students, as well. 

Jimmy was very active in Philadelphia’s LGBTQ and HIV/AIDS communities. He was a longtime member and officer of Dignity Philadelphia and an early member of the running group Frontrunners, and he volunteered with multiple service organizations including Mazzoni Center, MANNA, and Philly AIDS Walk. In addition, he was a volunteer at Broad Street Ministries, visited the sick or home-bound, and coordinated an annual holiday party and gift exchange at Betak and Calcutta House for many years. 

Since his retirement from the School District in 2002 Jimmy filled his time with volunteer work and doing family genealogies and house histories for friends and acquaintances. Always one to create community and support others, he established a weekly coffee group for retired gay men which he coordinated until his death. Jimmy is remembered as a gentle, loving person with unending optimism and zest for life.

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