Jimmy Kallenberg Memorial
On Saturday, June 11, the family of Jimmy “Jimmy’s Shoes” Kallenberg, longtime director of Port Washington Youth Acivities (PYA), gathered at PYA’s home at Lions Field to honor him with a brief memorial ceremony commemorating his years of service as a board of directors. member, and dedicate a bench to his name.
Jimmy was a well-known business owner in Port Washington who passed away in June 2021 after battling a fierce battle with cancer. He was inducted into the PYA Hall of Fame in 2006. At that time, he summed up his commitment to the organization as follows: “I was too old for PYA when it started, but my friends and I were playing football at Lion’s Field . Back then, the field was basically wasteland – weeds, rocks, bare patches. We’d be in the middle of a game and then the little kids would show up and we’d be thrown out.
In the late 1980s, then-president Jim Cosolito contacted Kallenberg and requested his participation on the board, and he offered his services.
“I was immediately impressed by the energy and enthusiasm of this group. That’s when I decided I wanted to help turn the weed and rock-strewn Lions Field into the best sports field on Long Island,” Kallenberg recalled.
This memory inspired him to help lead the largest fundraising effort in PYA’s history in 2000. His mantra became, “Give me a plan and I’ll raise the money.” Through this leadership and a massive overall organizational effort, Jimmy and the PYA Board of Directors have raised nearly $1 million to redevelop the land.
With this achievement and motivation firmly etched not only in PYA’s archives, but also in the love of his family, on this day in June, PYA sponsored a brief, moving tribute at Lions Field prior to the day’s baseball game. Jimmy’s daughter, Elizabeth, threw out the first pitch that day. She continues to honor her father by running marathons and participated in a 100 mile race out west, raising money for PYA. His two older brothers, Brian and Matthew, have also found countless ways to honor his memory. All three played multiple sports at PYA and had successful athletic careers.
Among those present were many longtime board members and friends of the Kallenberg family. The family wanted a quiet little affair, so as not to distract the children who were playing that day. That kindness and humility that Jimmy, his widow Sharon (another Port Washington native) and his children have always shown continues.
Jimmy’s spirit and the event of that day can be summed up in another of his reminiscences: “One of the greatest pleasures I have had has been training my children on this beautiful, state-of-the-art course. – the same torn piece of land that we used to play.”
PYA, established in 1963, is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization whose mission is to promote sportsmanship and character development in children through participation in its athletic programs. You can find out more at www.pyasports.org.
—Submitted by the PYA