Ted Callaway: Dallas native saw Oswald shortly after JFK's slaying
09:33 PM CST on Wednesday, March 16, 2005
By CHRISTY A. ROBINSON / The Dallas Morning News
On Nov. 22, 1963, Ted Callaway was standing on the front porch of Harris Bros. Auto Sales when he heard five gunshots.
His subsequent experience with Lee Harvey Oswald soon after Dallas police Officer J.D. Tippit was killed turned Mr. Callaway into a participant in the Warren Commission hearings.
Mr. Callaway, 81, died March 10 of complications from pneumonia at Doctors Hospital in Dallas. His services were Tuesday at Restland Funeral Home.
"He was very concerned about the state of the nation at the time, and for the president's family," said his son, Robert Callaway of Dallas. "He was also concerned about his own family because of being an eyewitness."
Mr. Callaway was working at the car lot when President John F. Kennedy was shot, according to his Warren Commission testimony. Officer Tippit, patrolling the area, pulled up next to Mr. Oswald, who shot the officer and fled.
Those shots brought Mr. Callaway out onto the sidewalk, where Mr. Oswald, gun in hand, walked hurriedly down Patton Avenue, as close as 18 yards away.
Mr. Callaway testified that he yelled to Mr. Oswald, "Hey man, what the hell is going on?" Mr. Oswald stopped, said something unintelligible in reply, shrugged and walked quickly west on Jefferson Boulevard.
Mr. Callaway and others gathered around Officer Tippit's squad car. The officer was lying in the street.
The salesman and a cabdriver had seen Mr. Oswald headed toward Texas Theater. They got in a taxi and drove on 10th Street, Crawford Street, Jefferson and Beckley Avenue trying to find him.
Police captured Mr. Oswald at the theater 45 minutes after he shot the officer. Mr. Callaway picked him out of a police lineup that night.
"It was a sunny but very cold day. You could feel the cold of the nation, like September 11th," said Mr. Callaway's son, who was in fifth grade at the time.
The elder Mr. Callaway believed that Mr. Oswald was the lone gunman but that others were involved in the assassination.
A few days before the assassination, Mr. Callaway sold an old car to a clean-cut, well-dressed businessman, said his daughter Katy Callaway of Dallas.
Mr. Callaway discovered it was bought under a bogus name, and the Secret Service found the vehicle next door to where Oswald lived, Ms. Callaway said.
Two days after the assassination, someone fired on the car lot, she said. Police never found the gunman. Secret Service agents kept watch on the family for two weeks.
In the coming decades, Mr. Callaway gave interviews to media outlets and authors delving into the controversy of that day, including 60 Minutes and Geraldo Rivera.
He helped with the filming of The Trial of Lee Harvey Oswald and Oliver Stone's JFK, his family said, and Southern Methodist University students would call him through the years seeking information for projects related to the assassination.
The Dallas native was born Aug. 26, 1923. He graduated from Sunset High School and studied English at Southern Methodist University.
He married Jeannette Callaway in 1951.
From 1942 to 1945 and from 1951 to 1954 he served in the Marine Corps. He was a survivor of Iwo Jima, Saipan and Guadalcanal.
"He was a marksman in the Marines," Ms. Callaway said. "He used the same [kind of] rifle Oswald used, so he knew everything about it."
Mr. Callaway was a 32nd-degree Mason and a member of First Baptist Church in Dallas.
"He was in the nursing home, and some people visited him for interviews" for an upgrade on a book. Ms. Callaway said. "They visited him [there] twice, the last time about a year ago."
In addition to his son and daughter, Mr. Callaway is survived by another daughter, Maggie Tarasoff of Dallas; a sister, Jean Carmack of Dallas; and two grandchildren.