Dr. Jerome Jay “Jerry” Gallagher, age 78, died December 11, 2021, at St. Lawrence hospice in Lansing, Michigan, with his beloved wife of 51 years, Sherwood Hughes Gallagher, by his side. Jerome was born on November 13, 1943, in Traverse City, MI, to general surgeon/neurologist/psychiatrist and Director of Receiving at Traverse City State Hospital William Hanna Gallagher and Mother Hannah Ethel Rosen.
Jerome received a B.S. degree in Clinical and Experimental Psychology from Michigan State University in 1967, a Master’s in Psychology from Central Michigan University in 1968 and a Ph.D. in Psychology from Michigan State University in 1973.
In the 1940s, the custom was that physicians’ families grew up on the grounds of the State Hospital and Jerry frequently accompanied his father to see patients. He learned by observing his father how to treat people with respect and deep compassion but also with purpose. Jerome was preceded in death by his older brother William Joseph Gallagher, and survived by, among others, his younger brothers Morton James and Stuart Robert Gallagher. All three felt deeply that Traverse City was home and that they had enjoyed the best childhood that anyone could have had. All family gatherings involved some amount of time spent reminiscing about the good old days running wild over the grounds of the hospital, playing in the creek, shooting the bulls with pea shooters, and building fires and roasting hot dogs in the tunnels….
Jerome was also an accomplished musician, again, influenced by growing up listening nightly to his father play Chopin waltzes on the piano. Jerry’s own children in turn would lay beneath his piano most nights on a brown furry bean bag listening to him play music that ran the gamut from Chopin, to ragtime, to the Great American songbook, and even church hymns. Jerry was a rare individual who had a true ear and did not need music to play; in fact never did learn to read music. If he could hear it, he could play it. His first, and only, piano teacher dismissed him when, as a small boy, she realized he was only pretending to read the music he was supposed to be playing for his lesson. He was appearing to concentrate hard but the songbook was opened to the wrong page- -And upside down! Music was an integral part of Jerome’s life. He played throughout the state with bands and as a soloist in all the top venues of the 1960s, and in fact, paid his entire way through school playing the piano.
Jerome was also a superb swimmer and lifeguarded for two years at Riviera Beach in Florida. He was a 32nd degree Mason, a member of the Scottish Rite, a member of the National Register of HealthCare Service Providers in Psychology, a Diplomate of the American Society of Forensic Examiners, a member of the Internat’l Assn. of Chiefs of Police (IACP), a member of the American Legion, the Eagles, the Moose, and a lifetime member of the Elks.
Jerome had an illustrious career spanning decades working in community mental health, corrections, and court settings. He was the director of the Ingham County Jail mental health services for over 20 years, as well as providing thousands of hours of expert witness testimony in court, becoming a particular expert in the complicated field of forensic toxicology. He founded and obtained years of grant funding for Project Sentry, a forensics drug testing clinic used by the courts of Michigan. At the same time, he operated his own private counseling practice and Psychappraisal Associates, a partnership with fellow psychologist, Dr. Gary Kaufmann, providing consultation for law-enforcement agencies focusing on hiring, critical incidents, and fitness for duty examinations. For over 30 years he worked with these agencies, retiring only 6 weeks before his passing. He felt “on call,” for these departments and officers who worked 24/7 for the public good and felt compelled to do the same for them. In his retirement letter to these sheriff and police departments he said, “You are all my heroes,” and he meant it.
Other than the countless individual lives he impacted, one of Jerome’s proudest professional accomplishments was being appointed to a two year task force with the federal government, working directly with drug “Czar” Dr. William Bennett and President Ronald Reagan to help shape national drug policy. The position was a great honor and an acknowledgement of the effectiveness of the policies he had instituted within his own facilities locally in Michigan.
Jerome’s true pride though, and what he would consider his greatest accomplishment are his family. He is survived by his wife, Sherwood, his daughter Emily Gallagher (Jeremy) Brown, sons William Hanna (Michelle) and Keith Hampton (Kristen). He leaves behind three grandchildren, Benjamin Robert, Lucas Jay, Vivian Hannah, and two step-grandchildren, Kylie and Koby Brown, along with several nieces and nephews. Jerry loved being called Papa by his grandchildren, he played piano with them and taught Ben especially all he knew about cars, which was a considerable amount. Jerome’s granddaughter Vivian Hannah was born December 10, just hours before Jerry’s passing and the entire family feels as if an exchange of life has happened. She has his piano playing fingers and also has some very big shoes to fill.
Jerome married the love of his life Sherwood Hughes (Hardwick) in Traverse City in 1970 and was always aware that the great accomplishments of his professional and personal life would not have been possible without her steady influence. He would be the first to say she held the entire endeavor together, tending the home, running his practices, minding the budget and finances, and getting the kids off to school each day.
This is only a small glimpse of what it was like to have known Dr. G. His intellect and lifelong intellectual curiosity was formidable. The only thing greater was his near photographic memory, especially for people and places in the past. On any street in Traverse City he could tell you who lived in each and every home, who owned every store, even who sat next to him in kindergarten. He was incredibly funny and liked to learn from anyone about anything. If you knew more than he did about a topic, be it car engines and motorcycles, to building a log cabin, to surgery, to polishing Petoskey stones…he wanted to know what you knew. He felt most at home when he was at his summer cottage on Long Lake outside Traverse City, and the door was always open to anyone. Unannounced visits from any number of friends were a near daily occurrence. If heaven is the version of where you are happiest, Jerry is sitting on his deck, looking west out at the lake at sunset, having made cocktails for his gathered family, his children and brothers. Grandkids splashing and laughing in the water below, waiting for the evening to fall, and a very late dinner to be had. Dear neighbors and friends drop by to enjoy the communal warmth of a beautiful northern Michigan summer night surrounded by people he loved deeply and who loved him back.
The funeral service will be held at 2:00 p.m. on Saturday, January 15, 2022, at the Estes-Leadley Greater Lansing Chapel. His family will receive relatives and friends from 2-4 and 6-8 p.m. on Friday, January 14th at the funeral home.
The family requests visitors to please wear masks for the visitation and funeral.
A livestream of the service will be held. Please click here to view.
A graveside memorial service and burial will take place at Oakwood Cemetery in Traverse City sometime in the spring of 2022. Details will follow when the date and time have been decided.
In lieu of flowers, memorial contributions may be made to:
Hospice House of Mid-Michigan, 1210 W. Saginaw St., Lansing, MI 48915
The 180 Impact, Rally Point Defense, LLC, Aaron Smith, 303 Bittersweet Lane, Battle Creek, MI 49015 (They assist first responders, mostly police officers, to overcome burnout, depression, etc. by giving them education and resources for improved mental health).