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OBITUARY: Richard Gallagher

February 16, 2023
By Marcy Shortuse

On May 16, 2022, Richard S. Gallagher joined his beloved wife of nearly 49 years, Ann L. Gallagher, in heaven. 

Richard is survived by his adoring daughters, Elizabeth (Christopher) Petree of Chapel Hill, NC and Catherine (Jonathan) Brown of Chicago, IL. “Pops”, as his family lovingly called him, also leaves behind four grandchildren who thought the world of him: Olivia and Henry Richard Petree & Teddy and Hannah Brown. He is also survived by his sisters, Kathleen Joynt and Sharon Blackstock, along with countless family members and friends. Richard was born in Minot, ND on May 10, 1942, the son of John Walter Sidney and Esther Tappon Gallagher. Following graduation from Northwestern University School of Business in 1964 and Harvard Law School in 1967, Richard joined the US Navy as a Lieutenant Commander, serving in Vietnam in 1968 and 1969 with the Mobile Riverine Force. After his discharge from the Navy, he rejoined the Foley & Lardner law firm in Milwaukee where he had been employed as a law student in the summer of 1966. 

Richard spent his entire career as a partner at Foley, eventually becoming the Chair of the Tax and Individual Planning Department. Richard practiced law in a variety of areas, especially tax, business, estate planning, trust administration, and nonprofit governance.

He published about 50 articles and speeches on estate planning, taxation, and nonprofit law in addition to serving as Chair of the Exempt Organizations Committee and on the governing Council of the Section of Taxation of the American Bar Association. He was a Lieutenant Commander in the Naval Reserve Judge Advocate General Corps and an elected fellow of the American Law Institute, the American College of Tax Lawyers, and the American College of Trust and Estate Counsel. 

In 2004 he received the Wisconsin Bar Association Local Service Award and in 2011 he received the Milwaukee Bar Association Distinguished Service Award. Richard was Board President of the Milwaukee Youth Symphony Orchestra, the Milwaukee Bar Association Foundation, the Fox Point Foundation, and the Donors Forum of Wisconsin. He served on the Boards of the Froedtert Hospital Foundation, the United Performing Arts Fund, the Oconomowoc Area Foundation, and the Curative Workshop. 

He was a Trustee of the Froedtert Memorial Lutheran Hospital Trust, the Elizabeth Elser Doolittle Charitable Trust, the Joan and Melitta Pick Charitable Trust, and the Badger Meter Foundation and spent many years on the Boards of Directors of Jones Dairy Farm in Fort Atkinson and Marion Body Works in Marion.

Apart from his impressive professional achievements and contributions to Milwaukee, Richard was a talented storyteller – and always had a story to tell. His quick wit and sardonic take on every situation were endlessly amusing. He was generous with his time, his talent, his expertise, and his love. Over the years, he enjoyed golfing, spending summers on Oconomowoc Lake, gathering with friends at several social clubs, traveling (New York was a favorite destination: dining at Gallagher’s Steak House, lighting a candle at St Patrick’s Cathedral, and catching a Broadway show made him especially happy), woodworking, caring for his beautiful yard and gardens, reading anything and everything, experimenting in the kitchen, researching his ancestry, and, most of all, spending time with his spirited family. 

After retirement, Richard split his time between Milwaukee and his beloved Boca Grande. Over 35 years ago, Richard bought a house on the north end of the island (without consulting his wife first). During the months he spent in Boca Grande each year, he enjoyed attending luncheons and lectures put on by the Boca Grande Men’s Club, participating in Bible Study at Our Lady of Mercy, dining out with wonderful island friends, and sipping a pina colada (or two) at the Beach Club while watching his grandchildren swim. 

Richard was an inimitable man who will be missed immensely. The lives of his family, friends, colleagues, and acquaintances are richer for having known him.