RIP Joseph Gallagher

Ruth and Joe Gallagher

Ruth and Joe Gallagher, originally uploaded by cynthiacloskey.

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.

The Gallaghers and their store

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.

11 replies on “RIP Joseph Gallagher”

  1. Christina, I see the Rosalind Russell element a little, but I think the shoulder pads might be distorting things a bit.

    How extraordinarily delightful of you to say that I look like Grandmom. I suppose it’s the kind of family resemblance one can’t see oneself. I see elements of her in my mother and my sisters, but not in me. I’m more Closkey than Gallagher (or Free, which was my grandmother’s maiden name). I know for sure I have some of her mannerisms though, and I kind of cherish those.

  2. I love your grandmother’s hat. Hats like that should never go out of style. Sorry to hear of your loss. My thoughts are with you and your family.

  3. Those pictures are heartbreakingly beautiful. I’m particularly fond of the first one.

    I’m sorry for you loss, but I’m very glad that you were able to collect these images and thoughts of your grandfather. It’s a touching tribute.

  4. I’m sorry for your loss, Cynthia. I hope you do discover old family stories (and perhaps create new ones) when you see your relatives at the funeral. Gorgeous pictures.

  5. I’m so sorry for your loss. I also wasn’t very close with my grandfather when he died, but its still hard. The picture of him and your grandmother is beautiful.

  6. Cindy, I’m so sorry for your loss. I know exactly what you mean about getting the family stories straight — and taking the time to learn and enjoy them before someone passes on. The photographs you posted are wonderful. Your grandparents look so elegant and happy (and I agree that you resemble your grandmother!), and I love the storefront photo. Especially the “It Don’t Hurt a Bit” tooth extraction sign :)

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