Fifty years after combining two families, local couple ‘blessed’ by time together

Scott Swanson

Fifty’s a big number for any married couple, celebrating their golden anniversary, but for Don and Alice Gallogly, June 12, 2016 was even more significant.

That’s because the Galloglys started life together in their 30s, with six children between them.

“We put two families together,” Don said.

They met thanks to a match-making friend.

Don, who is actually a third-generation Oregonian, moved to Lebanon in May of 1962 from California “because I wanted to get the heck out of Dodge” after his wife had died, leaving him and two children.

He began working as a machinist for Linn Gear, owned by Gene Hartl.

Hartl was a good friend of Alice’s and he decided the two needed to meet.

“They were our neighbors,” Alice recalled. “I was pretty close to the family.”

“Gene was a known matchmaker in Lebanon,” Don said. “He invited me over for New Year’s Eve in 1965.

“I said, ‘No thanks.’

“He says, ‘No, really, I’d like you to come over.’ Then he says, ‘Listen to me: I’d like you to come over,’” Don added, with emphasis.

“I said, ‘Yes sir.’”

Both had been widowed for five years when they met and, well, the rest was history.

They instantly had a large family: Julie (Thiel) of California, Barbara (Stevens) of Sweet Home, Susan (Olson) of Salem, Ruth Ann, who is now deceased, Steve Knurowski of Lebanon and Nancy Gallogly of Sweet Home.

They later had one more, Don Jr., now of Salem.

“He was brother to everyone,” Alice said.

“We weren’t the Brady Bunch, but the kids got along better than we believed possible,” Don said. “They didn’t just team up, hers and mine (against each other). It was really fun, having all those kids in the house – more than you can imagine.”

“They all introduced each other as their brothers and sisters,” Alice said.

They moved to Sweet Home, where the children went to school and Don operated a machine shop on 18th Avenue.

One of his customers was Ed Seelander, founder of Slip-n-Slip Scissors. Don made the tooling to manufacture the distinctive, foldable scissors. Seelander ran the company for 20 years, then sold it to Don in 1988. The Galloglys ran it for 22 years, selling it in 2010 to Scott and Heather Johnson, who currently operate it.

After retiring, the Galloglys said, they did “a lot” of traveling, including one memorable cruise on a barge to Alaska out of Prince Rupert.

“There were a bunch of young people on there,” Don recalled. They had guitars and they stayed up all night.”

“We’re kind of staying closer to home now,” Alice said. “We want to do another cruise but we don’t want to take an airplane ride.”

They celebrated their 50th anniversary with a week-long cruise aboard the American Pride on the Columbia River.

“We feel really blessed that we’ve had so many years together,” Alice said. “We never expected to go that long or do as many things as we’ve gotten to do.”