A Soldier’s Story: Melvin Gallagher

On January 3, 2011, in Anniversaries, by Jody Ewing
Melvin Gallagher

Melvin Gallagher

His young adult life had started out with a few uncertainties, but 22-year-old Melvin James Gallagher was finding his footing and making plans for what he hoped would be a bright future.

He’d been deeply in love with two different women — Gloria and Patricia — and wanted to settle down with a good job and start raising a family. He’d first been engaged to Patricia, but after much soul searching, realized it was Gloria with whom he wanted to spend his life. He and Patricia broke off their engagement, and a short time after they went their separate ways, Patricia discovered she was pregnant with Gallagher’s child.

Melvin and Gloria became engaged, and were to marry the following year on January 10, 1959. Some time during their engagement, Gloria also became pregnant.

In the interim, Gallagher, who’d recently been discharged after serving with the Army, started working at the Clark Super 100 service station located at 210 Falls Ave. in Waterloo. He submitted an application for employment with the Waterloo Police Department, and also applied for entry to a chiropractic school. Now that that Army vet would have a wife and child, there would be expenses and he’d be leaving his mother and step-father’s home to make one of his own with his new family.

He never got the chance to marry his girl. Never got the opportunity to meet his unborn children. Never got the time to fulfill any of his dreams.

He’d been working at the service station just six month when, on a bitterly cold Saturday morning about 5:15 a.m., he was killed by a shotgun blast to the head as he prepared to end his night-shift. On January 3, 1959, exactly one week before his wedding day, Melvin James Gallagher lay dying on a filling station floor behind frost-covered windows — his left hand still in his pocket — as his life and all he’d ever hoped for ebbed away and vanished.

The following month on February 19, Patricia gave birth to the couple’s son, Michael. Later that year, Gloria delivered their twin daughters.

Melvin Gallagher’s three children are now 51 years old, and despite the half century since their father’s death, all still wait for answers as to who pulled the trigger that cold winter morning and why they had to grow up never getting to know their father.

If you have any information about this crime, please contact the Waterloo Police Department’s Investigations Division at 319-291-4340 or e-mail [email protected].

4 Responses to A Soldier’s Story: Melvin Gallagher

  1. Rick says:

    Mmmm…i worked at that Clark while in collage at UNI.
    We can assume one thing…he isdead also.

  2. Jody Ewing says:

    Thank you for your comment, Michael, and please accept my condolences on the loss of your father. I’m so sorry you never got the chance to get to know him while growing up.

    I did want to double-check with you to see if what you found insulting was the case summary written about your dad, or whether you were referring to the comment just above yours. I wasn’t sure exactly what Rick meant, particularly since the case summary clarifies that your father was killed.

    If there’s any other information (or photos) you’d like included on your dad’s main page — it’s at https://iowacoldcases.org/case-summaries/melvin-gallagher/ — please feel free to send it along to me at: jody at iowacoldcases.org. Thank you again for your comment.

    Jody

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