Just as Penn Charter acknowledged their parents with Honorary 1689 degrees, the three children of Bill and Mary Gallagher have found a way to imprint their parents’ PC legacy.
As Bill Gallagher Hon. 1689 approached his 70th birthday, his three children were inspired to honor him with an exceptional present. They decided to acknowledge his legacy and service to PC Athletics by dedicating a space in the new Graham Athletics & Wellness Center in his honor.
Gallagher taught Spanish, coached football, basketball and baseball, and, from 1981 until 2000, championed sports at Penn Charter as director of athletics. Seven of PC’s eight Heyward Cups, awarded to the Inter-Ac school with the best overall performance in sports, were won when Gallagher was AD; his football teams won six IAAA championships and were consistently ranked in the top 10 in the city and in the area.
“We wanted to preserve his name, and the new center was the right fit,” explained Bill Gallagher Jr. OPC ’91. “It is new, it is exciting, and it is focused on athletics.”
Their father was touched by the gift from his three children—Bill Jr., Megan Gallagher Duffy OPC ’93 and Jennifer Gallagher OPC ’94. And, several months after his birthday, he found a way to make the gift even more inclusive. Their mother, Mary Gallagher Hon. 1689, was approaching her 70th birthday, and Bill Sr. suggested his wife share the honor with him.
Mary Gallagher began at PC as an unofficial volunteer typing up her husband’s athletic schedules and was soon hired to support the Middle School director, then College Counseling and eventually the assistant head of school. “They were a team, a presence,” said Bill Jr. “It made sense to recognize them both. So, we regifted!”
All five Gallaghers have been a presence at Penn Charter. Jennifer served on the Alumni Society and Bill Jr. was president; Megan is a former lacrosse coach and a current PC parent. As PC students they were leaders, especially in sports.
Megan and Jennifer entered in first grade and kindergarten, respectively, and grew along with the school’s evolving girls athletics program, which expanded in the 1980s and 1990s once PC went fully coed, and while their father was director of athletics.
“As girls advanced by grade and more girls enrolled at the school, more sports were added and, each year, we became more competitive,” Megan said. “Just as sports were important for the boys, sports were equally important for the girls. In the moment you enjoy being with your friends, working toward a common goal, being outside. When you get older you recognize that you gained confidence from those situations, and leadership skills.”
The sisters embrace the wellness component of the new Graham Athletics & Wellness Center and how it contributes to students overall, and athletes in particular.
“Staying fit helps you perform better in your sport,” Jennifer said, “and the recognition of that has changed so dramatically from the time we played. We would never have thought to take a yoga class as part of our lacrosse team—but keeping your body limber enhances your performance.”
The space in the new center that the Gallaghers have sponsored is the Gallagher Overlook, a deep and long balcony with a view to the front fields, the football field to the left and, to the right, the new baseball field on Strawbridge Campus. It’s in the center of the action. That seems fitting for the Gallaghers, who were at the center of things at PC and for whom PC was the center of things for many years.
“For almost 25 years, there was someone in our family driving up and down the Boulevard,” Bill Jr. said of the family’s commute from Mayfair. “It was a big part of the fabric of our lives.” PC