Opinion: Remembering friend and musician Mike Gallagher


Commentary by Ward Degler

The music died on a Saturday night this month. At some time during that night Mike Gallagher, my wife’s nephew and a long-time friend of mine, died. I don’t know the cause. As far as I know, he hadn’t been ill.

My wife’s family reunion, held every summer for many summers, was always bathed in music. Mike’s music.

I don’t recall ever seeing Mike without his guitar. He played songs that everyone knew. Everyone sang along, some in harmony so smooth it made your heart ache.

Mike inspired others to pick up their guitars and join in. Often five or six people played, including Mike’s brother Joe and his cousin John Riley. Everyone sang, often led by Mike’s sister Dee. On one occasion at the state park where we hold our reunions, someone stopped by and asked what time the concert would be held.

We told them we were just a family gathering. But, yeah, we were that kind of good. 

Or maybe we were just that kind of enthusiastic. Mike inspired us that way. Long after the reunion was over, the music danced in our hearts. More than once I caught myself humming one of his songs days after the reunion was over.

Mike brought song sheets to the reunion, and once he handed out song books put together by a cousin. Everyone sang.

I believe Mike was 66 years old when he died. He never married, never had a serious relationship that I know of. It was just him and his guitar.

For us, his family, it was enough.