Thomas Bernard Gallagher

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November 15, 1938–February 15, 2024


Thomas Bernard Gallagher, age 85, of Lancaster, formerly of Oviedo, Fla., and Santa Barbara, Cal., passed away on Feb. 15, 2024, at Lancaster Health Services, Lancaster.

Tom was born Nov. 15, 1938, in Rockford, Ill., to James Gallagher and Emma (Aument) Gallagher. He attended St. James Elementary School, St. Thomas High School, and East High School.  When not in school, you could find him in the billiards room across the street from his home.  His father and mother gave him a note to allow him to play with the stipulation that he keep his grades high.  This love of playing pool continued through his life when he played professionally. 

He married Rachel Rae Reedy on Dec. 11, 1954. They were blessed with two children: Tom and Georgia.

Tom began his working career as a typewriter repairman in Rockford.

In 1962, Tom was drafted into the U.S. Army.  He served in Germany where he was noted for his marksmanship skills and selected to be on the Colonel’s competitive marksmanship team. Upon discharge from military service, Tom joined the Santa Barbara Sheriff’s Department where he attained the highest recruit training score ever achieved in the department at that time. 

Later, Tom was appointed as the Aviation Director at Santa Barbara Airport where he became good friends with John Travolta.  He was an accomplished pilot who flew many trips to Mexico with surgeons and dentists conducting medical missions.  

Tom was a skilled competitive sky diver, winning numerous awards and became an instructor teaching many students in his private skydiving school.  Tom developed and taught a course to teach anyone to take controls of an aircraft in the case of a disabled pilot. 

He was a competitive pool player, having beaten three world champions, and was inducted into the Santa Barbara Billiards Hall of Fame.  For many years, Tom made his living playing as well as teaching and coaching poker, blackjack, and craps.  Thomas also invented and patented a game of chance called “Lucky 33.”

Thomas Gallagher affectionately known as “Grandad Tom”, is survived by his son, Tom (Cindy), daughter, Georgia (Keith); Brother, Gerald (Sandy) Gallagher, Castle Rock, Colo.; seven grandchildren and 21 great grandchildren.

Tom was preceded in death by his parents: James Patrick Gallagher and Emma, nee Aument, Gallagher; Brothers: Richard, James, Charles and Sisters: Rosella, Betty, and Joanne; a grandson James Govier.

Tom will especially be remembered for his kind and caring personality and fiery spirit.  He passed down his competitive nature with his kids which always made for a good time.

A Mass of Christian Burial was held on Feb. 28 at 11 a.m. at St. Clement Catholic Church in Lancaster with Father Mark Miller officiating.  Burial and military honors followed at Mt. Zion Cemetery, Mt. Ida Township.  

Martin Schwartz Funeral Home & Crematory in Lancaster is entrusted with is care.

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