|Walter J. Gallagher Obituary
|Walter J. Gallagher
Walt Gallagher's amazing story ended June 2nd when he passed from this
life with his family by his side. The son of immigrants, Walt was born July
27, 1940 and grew up in Philadelphia where he met the love of his life,
Suzanne Shea, at a church dance. The Wildwood lifeguard knew he needed
to up his game if he were to win her hand in marriage so he set out for
USMC officers candidate school upon graduating from LaSalle College.
While in the USMC, he served 2 tours in Vietnam. In his first tour he was a
motor pool officer and then in charge of the perimeter at the Marble
Mountain Marine base, where he received the Navy Commendation Medal
for rescuing 3 Marines from drowning. Walt then went to flight school and
was ultimately assigned to Heavy Marine Helicopter Squadron 462. The
squadron deployed to Phu Bai South Vietnam in 1968, where Walt served
as a heavy transport helicopter pilot for his 2nd tour of duty, flying supplies
and ammunition under fire into Marine Outposts along the DMZ.
Walt left the Marines in the early 70's, and joined a former squadron
colleague on the Winter Park Police Department as a patrolman. His
children fondly remember the sounds over his police radio, living with a
large German Shepherd K-9 dog, and noticing his cruiser parked on the
fringes of sporting events so he could watch them while on duty. He taught
himself chess and excelled at card games, darts and shooting free throws.
He loved poker, and once outlasted his son and grandson on a trip to Las
Using his GI benefits, he earned his Masters in both Criminal Justice and Business Administration. He was a graduate of the
FBI National Academy. He hustled to support his family by simultaneously working overtime shifts, teaching at community
college and serving as the commanding officer of the local Marine Corps Reserve. In 1980, after being promoted to Sargent he
left WPPD to join the Orange County Sherriff's department as a Sector Commander. In a longshot bid, he was elected Sherriff
of Orange County in 1988. He retired from public service in 2011, and spent many hours talking to inmates in local prisons via
the Kairos ministry. Suzanne led him to Signal Mountain, TN where enjoyed his final years. Dad's life showed us we needed to
stay positive, work hard, be kind to others and occasionally take audacious risk.
Walt was predeceased by his beloved bride Suzanne, parents Philip and Jess and siblings Philip, Charlie and Jack He is
survived by children Michael (Trish), Suzanne, Tim (Jeanne), and Erin and grandchildren Joseph, Daniel, Charlie, Alex, Katie,
William, and Michelle to whom he was affectionally known as "Pop Pop".
Walt was a great father, a true patriot and a loyal friend. He loved his life.