Beginning at an early age, Robert James (Jim) Gallagher was fascinated with just about everything. From Boy Scouts and model making, to go-kart-building, video games and home renovation projects, Jim had an endless supply of ideas and activities. Just this year, he was building a model of the legendary Millennium Falcon, a meticulous and time-intensive undertaking to create a replica of the cargo vessel at the center of some of the most incredible adventures in the Star Wars series.
Diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes when he was 21 years old, Jim passed away earlier this month in the loving care of his family, Moments Hospice, and the amazing staff at Angel's Touch Assisted Living in De Pere from complications of the disease.
Some 20 years ago, in full riding leathers Jim was racing motorcycles at a track in Birmingham, Alabama when his bike spun out of control and he crashed, breaking his ankle and elbow, among other injuries. His sister Anne flew to the hospital where he was in multiple casts. "You can leave now," he told her. "I'm good." Jim required transfer to a Milwaukee hospital for surgery. Anne enlisted their brother Mike and they drove Jim, surrounded by newly purchased pillows and comforters, to Milwaukee in a rental van, eliciting a promise during the 20-hour trip that he would never ride again. Not surprisingly, he rode for years after.
Jim brought that moxie to his many passions and hobbies, which included die-hard attendance at Green Bay Packer games, a penchant for fast cars and motorcycles, earning a black belt and teaching Taekwondo, coaching his stepdaughter’s basketball team, building his sports memorabilia and myriad other collections, and an insatiable wanderlust. As a process engineer for Harley-Davidson, Jim traveled the world ensuring quality control for the company’s products, racking up elite status with multiple airlines and hotels. Once while traveling internationally, Jim was about to miss an important flight when the airline dispatched a Porsche to transport him directly from the terminal to the plane.
Jim’s many pursuits did not come at the expense of professional achievement. He earned his MBA from Marquette University in his 40s and served as president of the Wisconsin chapter of the Chemical Coaters Association International, for which he co-authored a technical guide on powder paint coatings.
Throughout his life, Jim touched many with his generosity, showering his stepdaughter and nieces and nephews with a never-ending supply of gifts. He was equally generous with friends and neighbors, who remembered the time he brought saris to two girls down the street following one of his many trips to India. He relished gatherings with family and friends, typically arriving with prodigious quantities of food, drink, and excellent cigars. He enthusiastically enjoyed and sometimes planned nearly 50 “Gallagher Weekends” with relatives, as well as many and varied camping trips.
A Green Bay native, Jim attended St. John the Evangelist and Catholic Central elementary schools, and Our Lady of Premontre (now Notre Dame de la Baie) High School. He started college at the University of Wisconsin – Green Bay, studied abroad for a semester in London and finished his undergraduate degree at the University of Wisconsin – Milwaukee.
Jim was preceded in death by his parents, Robert J., and Eileen (Stark) Gallagher. He is survived by siblings Kathleen (Robert) Nicol, Susan (Steve) Gallagher-Lepak, Anne Gallagher and Michael (Melissa) Gallagher; step-daughter Abigail Spaeth; nieces (Gigi and Emily) and nephews (Nicolas, George, Mack, Andrew, Henry, Jackson and Grant), an uncle Jerry (Janet) Gallagher, first cousins John (Janelle) Mellinger, Tom (Linda) Mellinger, Jim (Sara) Mellinger and William (Barbara) Gallagher; his very close friends the Cunningham’s and countless neighbors and friends including those who knew him as “Harley Jim,” his Tuesday night guys group at Aliota’s Pub & Grill, and many Harley colleagues.
A visitation will be held from 11 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. on Saturday, November 27 at Feerick Funeral Home in Shorewood, followed by a Catholic celebration of life ceremony at 1:30 p.m. The ceremony will be lived-streamed here https://youtu.be/5JC4Jp6RfnY and will be available for on demand broadcast on Saturday by visiting Jim’s obituary at www.feerickfuneralhome.com
To honor Jim’s spirit, a scholarship has been established at the University of Wisconsin - Green Bay in his name. Donations may be made online here -- https://secure.qgiv.com/for/uowgb/restriction/Robert+James++Jim++Gallagher+Memorial -- or by check to the University of Wisconsin-Green Bay Foundation (Robert James “Jim” Gallagher Scholarship), 2420 Nicolet Drive, Green Bay, WI 54311.
Jim’s family would like to thank the exceptional caregivers at Columbia St. Mary’s hospitals in Milwaukee and Ozaukee and Froedtert Hospital, Moments Hospice in Appleton, and Angels Touch Assisted Living in De Pere.