Ruth Margaret (Jaeger) Gallagher, 95, of La Crosse passed away peacefully on May 9, 2015 at Bethany Lutheran Riverside in La Crosse.
Ruth was born August 24, 1919 in Chicago Illinois to Vera and Louis Jaeger, and was the seventh of ten children. In her late teens, she moved to La Crosse to live with her aunt and uncle, Rose and Leo â€œSimiâ€ Simones, and attend the University of Wisconsin at La Crosse (then known as La Crosse State Teachers College). In 1941, Ruth graduated with a bachelorâ€™s degree in physical education and biology, and a teacherâ€™s certificate. Through her La Crosse relatives, she met her future husband, Dr. Frank Gallagher of Oâ€™Neill, Nebraska, who was practicing medicine in La Crosse with his uncle Dr. E.E. Gallagher.
Frank and Ruth married on August 26, 1941. Shortly after the birth of their first son, Frank joined the U.S. Army and served as a captain in the Medical Corps in the European Theater. After his return to La Crosse in 1946, they had four more children, a girl and three boys.
Ruth loved athletics. At UW-L, she played on the â€œBloomer Girlsâ€ basketball team, and later bowled and played golf. Her favorite sport was tennis, which she played into her late eighties. Shortly before her death, the staff at Bethany Lutheran saw her return a few fast serves during whiffle-ball tennis in the community room.
Education and the arts were important to Ruth. She played the piano and the accordion, and loved to harmonize. She took language classes in French, Japanese, Spanish and German, and always kept a French book beside her bed. She enjoyed nature, and loved watching birds.
She will be remembered for her sense of humor, her wit and word play â€“ and for her dedication to her husband, especially during his decade-long convalescence following a stroke. At his death on November 16, 1994, Ruth and Frank had been married for 53 years.
In addition to her husband, Ruth is preceded in death by her nine brothers and sisters, and her youngest grandson Jackson Gallagher. She is survived by her five children: James Gallagher and his wife Janice of La Crosse; Michael Gallagher of Breckenridge, Colorado; Mary Ellen Gallagher of Paris, France; Daniel Gallagher and his wife Janette of Corning, New York; and Joseph Gallagher of Los Angeles, California. Ruth treasured her grandchildren, Meghan Shaughnessy and her husband Mark; Cullen Gallagher of Minneapolis; and Kevin Gallagher and his wife Alicia of Corning, New York. Ruth enjoyed her spirited great grandsons, Benjamin and Evan Shaughnessy, and looked forward to the arrival of her third great grandson Jack Gallagher, due later this month.
Visitation will be Tuesday evening, May 12 from 6:00-8:00 p.m. at Blaschke Funeral Home, 1501 West Avenue South, La Crosse. A Mass of Christian Burial to be celebrated on Wednesday, May 13 at 10:00 a.m. at Saint Joseph the Workman Cathedral, 530 Main Street, and friends may greet the family in the Cathedralâ€™s Gathering Space beginning at 9:00 a.m. Private burial will take place in the Saint Francis of Assisi Mausoleum in the Catholic Cemetery.
In lieu of flowers, the family asks that memorial gifts be made to The UW-L Foundation, the Coulee Region Audubon Society, or Minnesota Public Radio.
The Gallagher family is extremely grateful to the staff of Bethany Lutheran Riverside in La Crosse, where Ruth was cared for with kindness, competence and respect during her final years.