Published: July 5, 2011
John W. Calkins, 83, a well-known figure in the antiques field, died on May 6 after a brief illness. Educated at the Tilton School, Boston University and Rutgers University, he was a lifelong connoisseur of antiques, fine art and photographs.
When the Bank of Boston, where for 36 years he served as vice president of corporate relations, moved to its new headquarters on 100 Federal Street, Calkins was given the task of buying all the artwork to decorate the bank’s new headquarters. He became an anticipated customer at the galleries on Newbury Street, as well as the galleries in New York City. He served on the board of many charitable organizations, including the Boys & Girls Clubs of Boston. He was instrumental in bringing the Boston Antiques Show to Boston and connecting it with the Boys & Girls Clubs of Boston, which served as its original sponsor.
He served as a committee member for the Ellis Memorial Antiques Show and the Hancock Shaker Village Antiques Show, the Boston Antiques Show, the Boston International Fine Art Show and the AD 20/21: Art and Design of the Twentieth and Twenty-First Centuries Show. He was a prominent figure and visible at every antiques show and knew what was happening in that market.
Jacqueline Sideli, who produced numerous antiques shows throughout the Northeast for more than two decades, stated, “I miss him terribly. He walked me through 25 years of show promoting, always wise, always right on the money.” Tony Fusco of Fusco and Four, producers of the Boston International Fine Art Show and AD 20/21, commented, “John and I talked once a week, I called him whenever I had a question about our shows here in Boston. He would clip out articles of interest and mail them to me with his notes. He played an important role behind the scenes and as a friend and mentor. It is an enormous loss.”
Those who had the pleasure of working with him and enjoying his friendship over the years will miss his quick sense of humor and his unfailing kindness and generosity and insight.
The Douglass Funeral Home in Lexington was in charge of arrangements. Memorial donations may be made to the Boys & Girls Clubs of Boston or to Hancock Shaker Village of Pittsfield, Mass.
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