Lou Callister tells friends that he and his wife, Ellen,
built their 45-year marriage on a “solid foundation
of incompatibility.” If Ellen is nearby, she agrees...and
then smiles the special smile she reserves for mischievous
Anyone who believes Lou’s playful claim doesn’t know
either of the Callisters. Louis H. Callister JD’61 is one
of Utah’s most prominent attorneys, listed in the 2001-02
edition of “The Best Lawyers in America,” and was a
12-year member of the U’s Board of Trustees.
Ellen G. Callister BS’57 MS’67 devotes much of her time
and effort to helping those in need, especially individuals and
families struggling with addictive disease.
Both Callisters were awarded honorary degrees during Commencement
exercises last May. On Oct. 1, Lou gave up his position as president
and chair of Callister Nebeker & McCullough to become “of
counsel.” He wants to devote more time to the social causes
he and Ellen share—finding answers for addictive disease,
supporting better education opportunities for Native Americans,
and taking care of the West’s natural resources, among others.
When the fourth of their seven children died after years of struggle
with addictive disease, Lou and Ellen endowed a foundation in their
son’s name—the Edward G. Callister Foundation. As Ellen
says, “We felt if we could find a way to help even one individual
or one family avoid the suffering Edward and our family experienced,
it would make Edward’s shortened life more meaningful.”
The foundation is dedicated to: (1) increasing public awareness
about conditions leading to substance abuse, (2) supporting research
and education about addictive disease, and (3) providing assessment
and clinical services for those affected by the disease.
The foundation was instrumental in creating an on-campus organization
called the Utah Addiction Center (see Getting
a Fix on Addiction). Its functions are research, education,
and treatment. A major effort includes identifying scores of research
and education projects currently under way throughout campus.
Recently, the foundation made a generous grant to the School of
Medicine in order to develop a curriculum for teaching medical students
about how to deal with addictive disease. Incredibly, the program
may be the first of its kind in the United States.
Working with KUED, the foundation produced a television documentary
titled “Hope,” broadcast as a public service by every
television station in Utah. “Hope” earned a prestigious
national PRISM Award from the Entertainment Industries Council.
Lou and Ellen also created “Advocates for Improved Understanding
of Addictive Disease,” a volunteer committee of community
leaders. The committee develops strategies to reduce or eliminate
barriers of ignorance and discrimination that interfere with the
treatment and functioning of those suffering from addictive disease.
Among other projects developed under the guidance of the advocacy
committee are: (1) a 24-hour telephone hotline (587-HOPE), (2) a
comprehensive, one-stop Web site focused on addictive disease (hopetoday.com),
(3) the most extensive opinion poll ever conducted in Utah about
public attitudes concerning addiction, (4) help-resource posters
mailed to school counselors in every Utah high school and middle
school, (5) ambitious ad campaigns on radio and television to inform
Utah citizens about the nature of addictive disease, and (6) newspaper
articles about the debilitating social stigma attached to the disease.
Lou and Ellen, through the foundation, also work with various agencies
that serve addicts. Lou has been known to ride with Volunteers of
America as they reach out to homeless addicts to offer shelter and
treatment. Ellen is helping to develop an education program aimed
at middle school students. The foundation provides funding for vitamins
and medications used in the treatment of addictive disease. The
Callisters sponsor conferences, seminars, and other gatherings designed
to improve understanding among counselors, social workers, psychologists,
and professionals. Ellen has become one of the state’s leading
experts on addictive disease—although she steadfastly denies
Ellen and Lou Callister may be “incompatible,” as Lou
jokingly claims, but they are inseparable in their quest to find
answers to a debilitating disease that affects more than one in
10 Americans...and an even larger percentage of families. Their
joint efforts offer hope to human beings too often ostracized by
uninformed neighbors, friends, and associates.
—Don Gale BA’58 MA’60 PhD’86 is president
of Words, Words,Words, Inc. He was chair of the Alumni Association
and chair of the National Advisory Council, among other on-campus
posts. For 22 years, he wrote and delivered editorials for KSL radio