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Catholic Life

South Buffalo comes together for fallen trooper

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Father Martin Gallagher, along with family members and Council Member Christopher P. Scanlon hold proclamation from the Buffalo Common Council as a tribute to Trooper Joseph Scanlon, who died from injuries sustained while helping a disabled motorist in 2017. Photo by Patrick J. Buechi

Family and friends gathered at Notre Dame Academy in South Buffalo to celebrate and honor fallen New York State Trooper Joseph Gallagher. The June 2 gathering also served as an opportunity to thank the entire South Buffalo community for its generous giving nature.

On March 26, Trooper Gallagher passed away from injuries sustained from being struck by a vehicle while assisting a disabled motorist.

“Joe was a loving husband, a devoted father, a praiseworthy son and brother, a loyal friend and a brave and heroic servant to the state of New York,” said South District Council Member Christopher P. Scanlon, who met Gallagher as freshmen at Bishop Timon-St. Jude High School, also in South Buffalo. “It was very evident, even at the ages of 14 or 15 that Joe was someone who was committed to serving others,” Scanlon added, recalling how Gallagher would often volunteer for tasks no one else wanted.

After his death, a GoFundMe page was started to fund causes dear to his heart – the Signal 30 Benefit Fund, which provides support for the families of New York state police officers in extraordinary times and also provides scholarships to the children of troopers, and the Save the Sullivans campaign to help repair the USS The Sullivans at the Buffalo Naval Park.

Notre Dame Academy showed its support by raising funds through a dress down day.

“When we saw that Officer Gallagher had passed, we knew that we had to do something. We all wanted to pitch in. We all wanted to give more than we usually give,” said Principal Tristan D’Angelo.

Janet Barone, owner of Weed Man Lawn Care, whose children attend Notre Dame, offered to match the school’s funds. “We like to give back to the community. When we saw this opportunity, we thought it was a great opportunity and decided to match whatever the school raised,” he said.  

Janet Barone, owner of Weed Man Lawn Care, presents checks to Trooper Ryan Hadsell and Paul J. Marzello Sr., president and CEO of Buffalo & Erie County Naval & Military Park. Both the State Troopers Signal 30 fund and the naval park received checks in the memory of late Trooper Joseph Gallagher, who died from injuries sustained while helping a disabled motorist in 2017. Photo by Patrick J. Buechi

A combined total of more than $4,000 was raised.

“It’s always nice if the community remembers Joe and a lot of the good works that he did. He died at such a young age, so it’s nice that the community comes out to help. This South Buffalo community is one like no other in the world,” family matriarch Mary Beth Gallagher said.

Father Martin Gallagher, pastor of Blessed Sacrament Parish in Tonawanda and younger brother of Joe, recalled the sense of duty to the wider community they learned at Bishop Timon-St. Jude High School. “I think that was reflected and that certainly made an impression on my brother Joe in his decision to serve both in the United States Coast Guard, but also serving with the New York State Troopers,” he said.

Father Gallagher reflected on what it has been like since they heard the news that Joe was critically injured after being hit by a distracted driver in 2017.

“We realized ever since Joe’s accident that he wasn’t going to live to be 95 years old,” he said. “As a priest, I figured I’d have to someday bury him, but we didn’t think it would be this soon. We just have to look back on Joe’s life and be thankful for the time we had with him. We look back on the things he accomplished, on the people that he touched, the lives that he saved, both serving as a trooper and serving in the Coast Guard.”

Also present were Gallagher’s father, Jim, his sister and brother-in-law Jamie and Dan Hiltz, and his brother and sister-in-law Mike and Jamie Gallagher with their sons, Jackson and Mason.

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