Milburn E. Calhoun
Calhoun was born in West Monroe in Ouachita Parish in northeastern Louisiana to Darrell L. Calhoun and the former Mary Crowell. In 1947, he graduated from Ouachita Parish High School in Monroe. In 1949, he completed the curriculum at the University of Louisiana at Monroe, then known as "Northeast Junior College". In 1951, he completed his pre-medical education at Louisiana State University in Baton Rouge. In 1955, he graduated from medical school at the LSU Health Sciences Center New Orleans. He interned at New Orleans Charity Hospital. Thereafter, for nine years, he maintained a medical practice in Buras in Plaquemines Parish east of New Orleans. He also served for two years in the United States Air Force, having attained the rank of major. He then practiced from 1965 until his retirement in 1997 at the Nicholson, Baehr, Calhoun Family Clinic in Marrero, a census designated place in Jefferson Parish. He was chief of staff at West Jefferson Hospital in New Orleans.
Calhoun's persistent hobby was collecting rare books. He founded Bayou Books, an out-of-print dealership specializing in Louisiana and southern subjects. In 1961, he opened a bookstore under that same name in Gretna in Jefferson Parish. In March 1970, he and family members acquired Pelican Publishing Company, which had been founded in 1926 in New Orleans. They relocated the company to Gretna, where they operated the enterprise for more than forty years, having peaked with some 2,500 titles in print. Pelican books are sold in every state and in nearly all English-speaking countries throughout the world. One of its most successful books is See You at the Top, Zig Ziglar's motivational bestseller, still in print but initially rejected by some thirty other publishers. Calhoun also developed the classic Cajun Night Before Christmas series, which today includes twenty-nine titles. Pelican publishes cookbooks, architecture titles, a series on editorial cartoons, and works on the American Civil War, the American South, and African American topics. Calhoun said that he operated the company on the principle of publishing otherwise rejected books for which there is nevertheless a willing market for those titles. The sales doubled each year during the first decade of Calhoun’s leadership. Today, Pelican is the largest independent trade book publisher in the South.
Philanthrophy and legacy
Calhoun was a longtime member and deacon of Oak Park Baptist Church in the Algiers section of New Orleans. In 1998, he established the Mary and Darrell Calhoun Recreational Center at the Louisiana Baptist Children's Home orphanage in Monroe. In 1999, he endowed the million-dollar Mary E. and Darrell L. Calhoun Chair in Pharmacology at the University of Louisiana at Monroe, an institution with a pharmacy college. In 2009, he and his wife, the former Nancy Harris, established the Milburn and Nancy Calhoun Foundation to support of religious and educational activities.
Following a lengthy illness, Calhoun died at West Jefferson Hospital. Services were held on January 9, 2012, at Oak Park Baptist Church and then on January 12, at a funeral home in his native West Monroe. He is interred at Sibley Cemetery in Choudrant in Lincoln Parish west of West Monroe.
In addition to his wife, Calhoun was survived by his daughter, Kathleen Calhoun Nettleton and her husband, Carl Joseph Nettleton, of New Orleans, a son, David Harris Calhoun and his wife, Sharon Crosland Calhoun of Spokane Washington, a sister Gloria Calhoun Lee of Calhoun, Louisiana, a brother James L. Calhoun of Baton Rouge, and four granddaughters from Spokane.