My grandfather passed away this morning. I wasn’t close to him; he was not noticeably guarded, but he was what one might call a private person, not given to outbursts or sharing.
He was a kind person though, and very religious. He was also an enthusiastic bridge player, part of a tournament league.
The photo above is from some time in 1945, when he returned from the Pacific Theater of WWII and my grandmother traveled to the west coast to meet him and accompany him back to Philadelphia. Grandpop was over six feet tall; Grandmom was about five foot one. They are so beautiful in this photo it breaks my heart.
Grandpop was sometimes told that he looked like Robert Mitchum, but I’m told he never liked the comparison. I’ll guess this was because he disliked the characters Mitchum portrayed.
Here’s another photo of Grandpop, with his siblings in from of the general store the family ran. I think that’s him on the right. (Click the photo to see a larger version.) His expression here shows a little more of his attitude to life; he had a wry sense of humor and awareness of the world around him. CORRECTION: Mom tells me (over the phone, hilariously, rather than posting to the comments below) that this photo is of my great-grandfather and his siblings, and that my great-grandfather is on the left. See, this is why it’s important to gather with family at life events like births and deaths and weddings: to get the story straight.
Fun fact: The Atlantic & Pacific Tea Company later became the A&P. (My family didn’t own the whole thing, so we’re not incredibly rich. I don’t know why I’ve never asked more about how everything fitted together in the family history. I will ask at the funeral this week; funerals are good for reminding us to have that sort of discussion.)
Joseph Gallagher was a man of strong ethics and private views. I’ll miss him.