Native Scotsman found Glenwood, never looked back
Post Independent Staff
Dec. 31, 1922 – June 9, 2003
Walter Gallacher says when his father, Danny, first came through Glenwood Canyon on a train, Danny knew he was home. The 23-year-old Navy pharmacist’s mate, born in Scotland and raised in Brooklyn, arrived in Glenwood Springs in 1945 to serve in the Navy’s convalescent hospital at the Hotel Colorado.
And Walter said once Danny got here, he was here to stay.
Danny died June 9 at age 80. Fiercely independent, he lived at the house he bought in 1950 on Linden Street until two days before he died. That’s when he knew he was getting close, so he dialed Valley View’s number and admitted himself into the hospital.
“That’s how I found out he was in there,” said Walter with a smile. “Somebody from the hospital called me up at work and told me Danny had checked in.”
Monday evening, some of Danny’s relatives – son Walter, daughter-in-law Sarah Hess, grandchildren Mya and Dylan, son Michael, and Danny’s brother Pete – gathered at Walter and Sarah’s house on Traver Trail for dinner and to reminisce.
At the Gallacher house, lying across a table in the living room, are photo albums and photographs of Danny; his wife, Mary Frost Gallacher of the Frost family of Aspen, who died in 2001; and the couple’s four sons and their families.
There’s a sense that the sadness of Danny’s death is beginning to pass, its place filling with memories of the man who was a “hard ass,” according to son Michael, and also very much loved by his family and friends.
Former Glenwood Springs Mayor Bob Zanella was a dear friend of Danny’s. In the 1960s, Zanella ran the Buttercup Bakery, and Danny would stop by for coffee early in the morning when he made U.S. Mail runs from the Glenwood Springs train depot to the post office.
“Danny was really good at solving all the world’s problems,” said Zanella, smiling. “One story’s really stuck with me. It was during the time Chinese communists were taking over Tibet. Danny thought we should build a monastery on top of Red Mountain just like in Lhasa. Danny was just like that.”
Danny’s sons Walter and Mike and brother Pete said Danny was truly a entrepreneur, but not for any highfalutin’ reasons. Danny opened the first Sinclair service station in Glenwood, just down the street from the Hotel Colorado, and later the Highland Creme Dinette, a nine-stool diner – what is now the 19th Street Diner.
“He wasn’t a workaholic,” Walter said, even though Danny usually had at least three jobs going on at once, along with his work as a counselor for Glenwood’s first drug and alcohol treatment center.
“He didn’t know anything about operating a service station before he did it, and the same goes for the diner. But he could sense what the town needed. And he needed to put food on the table. He was a middle-class guy providing for his family,” Walter said.
Danny’s concern for his family extended beyond to his neighbors and those in need.
“He’d always tell us to `pass along a hatful of peas,'” Michael said, “which means, help someone less fortunate than yourself.”
Because of strokes and paralysis, both Danny and Mary used wheelchairs to get around near the end of their lives, and relied on friends to drive them when they needed a lift.
Mary Gallacher died in August 2000. The next winter, Danny’s grandson Dylan told his mom someone called their house saying that Danny had been spotted on the side of Highway 6 in his wheelchair.
“There was a huge snowstorm raging,” said Sarah. “We couldn’t imagine what he was doing, but he’d been threatening to wheel himself down to the New Orleans Cafe, and so that was the first place we looked.”
Sarah drove to the cafe in the blizzard to find Danny, his leather gloves neatly folded over one of his wheelchair’s armrests, eating a sandwich and talking politics with another customer.
After he was finished, she got him and his wheelchair into her van, and when she got him buckled into the seat next to hers she asked him what he was thinking.
“I told him, `You could’ve called us and we would’ve driven you over there and left you there if you’d like, and then picked you up again,” she said. “But he told me, `No, that would’ve changed it. Besides, a beautiful blond helped me cross the street.'”
“My heart just softened,” said Sarah, “and then Danny said, `You’ve never looked more beautiful.'”
“Danny depended on the universe to naturally take care of everything,” Walter said. “He wasn’t a religious man, but he had faith. He had faith in the universe.”
“A Life Remembered” is a new series of profiles by Carrie Click that will appear every other Wednesday in the Glenwood Springs Post Independent, alternating with our “Neighbors” profiles. The series will allow us to step back and think about some of our neighbors – and why we will miss them.
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