Jimmy Kallenberg Memorial
On Saturday, June 11, the family of Jimmy “Jimmy’s Shoes” Kallenberg, longtime Port Washington Youth Acivities (PYA) director, gathered at the PYA home at Lions Field to honor him with a brief memorial ceremony commemorating his years of service as a board member, and dedicate a bench in his name.
Jimmy was a well-known business owner in Port Washington who passed away in June of 2021 after waging 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 this way, “I was too old for PYA when it started but my friends and I used to play football on Lion’s Field. The field back then was basically a vacant lot—weeds, rocks, bare patches. We’d be in middle of a game and then the little kids would show up and we’d get thrown off.”
In the late 1980s, then-president Jim Cosolito reached out to Kallenberg and requested his involvement on the board, and he offered his services.
“I was immediately impressed with the energy and enthusiasm of this group. It was at that point that I decided I wanted to help turn the weedy, rock-strewn Lions Field into the best athletic field on Long Island,” Kallenberg recalled.
This memory inspired him to help spearhead the largest fundraising effort in PYA history, back in 2000. His mantra became, “Give me a plan and I’ll raise the money.” Through that leadership and a massive overall organizational effort, Jimmy and the PYA board raised close to one million dollars to redevelop the field.
With that achievement and drive firmly etched not only in PYA archives, but also from the love of his family, on that June day, PYA sponsored a brief, moving tribute at Lions Field before 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 took part in a 100-mile race out west, raising money for PYA. Her 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.
Those in attendance included many long-time board members and friends of the Kallenberg family. The family wanted a small, quiet affair, so as not to draw attention away from the kids playing that day. That kindness and humility which Jimmy, his widow Sharon (another Port Washington native), and children have always exhibited carries on.
Jimmy’s spirit, and the event that day can be summed up in another of his recollections, “One of the biggest thrills I had was coaching my kids on this beautiful, state of the art field—the same ripped up patch of dirt that we used to play on.”
PYA, established in 1963, is a 501(c) (3) not-for-profit organization whose mission is to promote the sportsmanship and character development in children through participation in its sports programs. You can find out more at www.pyasports.org.
—Submitted by the PYA