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John F. 'Jack' Gallagher, cancer researcher and amateur archaeologist

May 24, 1930 — June 24, 2018

John Francis "Jack" Gallagher devoted his working life to microbiology and cancer research.

But in his spare time, thanks to a decision his daughter made in college, he discovered and fed a passion for archaeology.

Mr. Gallagher died June 24 in his Amherst home after a long illness. He was 88.

Born in Buffalo, the youngest of three children, he grew up on a farm in Amherst, where his father boarded horses.

After graduating from Amherst High School, he attended Alfred University, then enlisted in the Air Force during the Korean War. He was stationed at a radar installation in Alaska and attained the rank of staff sergeant.

After returning from service, he attended the University of Buffalo, where he earned a bachelor’s degree in 1957 and was inducted into the Chi Beta Phi scientific fraternity. He completed a master’s degree at UB in 1965.

Mr. Gallagher began a 37-year career as a microbiologist at Roswell Park Memorial Institute (now Roswell Park Comprehensive Cancer Center) in 1957 and worked from 1974 to 1992 with Dr. William Held in the department of molecular and cellular biology.

His laboratory work in the 1970s helped develop techniques for DNA gene mapping, which he taught to numerous doctors and undergraduates. His research resulted in nearly two dozen scientific articles that he authored or co-authored.

At Roswell Park, he met Carol Kaiser, executive secretary to leukemia researcher Dr. James Grace.

“I used to come over and pass out the checks to everyone in the lab,” she said. They were married in 1965.

His interest in archaeology began when his daughter, Mary, was taking a course in college.

“They went to Illinois for a dig and that was the start of his archaeological endeavors,” his wife said.

He worked with Dr. R. Michael Gramly of the Buffalo Museum of Science on digs at Iroquoian sites which included the 17th to 19th century Smokes Creek Site in Orchard Park, the 18th century Goodyear Site in Elma and the Eaton Site in West Seneca.

He also helped explore the Olive Branch Dalton Culture Site in Illinois, the Wells Creek Crater site in Tennessee and the San Lazaro Pueblo Site in New Mexico, where he found important stone effigies.

He was an active member of the American Society for Amateur Archaeology and the Archaeological Society of Ohio from 1992 to 2007.

He also collected fossilized shark teeth along the Carolina and Florida coasts and enjoyed metal detecting.

For more than 15 years, Mr. Gallagher did genealogical research, tracing his ancestors from Ireland and other countries, corresponding with research institutes and contacting distant relatives, including a second cousin with a large family in Montana. He also wrote a personal memoir.

He and his wife were active with Marriage Encounter, a Catholic Church program which supports marriages, and were a presenting couple for Marriage Encounter weekends.

He visited national parks across the nation and toured numerous historical sites, including presidential homes and Civil War battlefields.

“He absolutely loved history,” his wife said.

He also enjoyed gardening, hiking and fishing. He took his family on summer camping trips to Canada and backpacked part of the Appalachian Trail in Virginia with his daughters.

In addition to his wife, survivors include three daughters, Catherine Mondock, Mary Bradley and Ellen Gallagher; and seven granddaughters.

A Mass of Christian Burial was offered June 29 in St. Pius X Catholic Church, 1700 North French Road, Getzville.

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