'A very special person': Friends, family remember Bensalem's Janice Gallagher for love of community, kindness

·5 min read

Janice Gallagher never wanted the limelight.

In the past week or so since her death, some of the people she helped over the years have come forward to tell her family stories about how she helped them, many of which they were unaware of.

“Some of the stories I heard, I couldn’t believe them," her husband, District Judge Michael Gallagher said.

Janice Gallagher, 66, died after a car crash in the township on Dec. 28.

Her husband of 45 years said in the week since her passing, he not only heard stories about his wife's kindness, but received letters talking of her impact on the lives of others.

His dining room table, he said, was covered with cards from people she affected.

“She was just a very kind-hearted person," he said.

He was told stories of how she helped students pay for lunch if they couldn't afford it while she was a "lunch mother," at a local high school, or how she gave money to a neighborhood boy she befriended to buy a video game.

Those were just some of the things she did that she did not talk much about.

“I can't tell you how much she loved to help people," the judge said.

Her older brother, County Commissioner Gene DiGirolamo, said he too had heard from several people sharing similar stories. Seeing her almost everyday growing up, and how she acted with others, the stories did not surprise him.

“She would just do anything for anybody if they asked her,” he said.

He estimated hundreds of people attended her funeral Monday.

“They all had a little story, they also all had a tear in their eye, because they knew what a very special person she was," he said.

Janice Gallagher was born and raised in Bensalem. She worked at her family's farm market, D-G's Farm Market, for over 30 years. She also worked at J&M Deli, which she owned, for several years.

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Janice Gallagher, left, pictured with her son Michael Gallagher Jr. middle, and husband District Judge Michael Gallagher. Janice Gallagher died following a car crash in Bensalem late last month.
Janice Gallagher, left, pictured with her son Michael Gallagher Jr. middle, and husband District Judge Michael Gallagher. Janice Gallagher died following a car crash in Bensalem late last month.

DiGirolamo said his sister, who graduated college with a teaching degree, could have been anything she wanted. But she chose to work at the family farm market.

“She loved Bensalem," Michael Gallagher said.

DiGirolamo said he thinks most people will remember her from her time at the market. Janice Gallagher treated everyone there like a friend or family member, and showed humility and compassion to them.

“She had a heart of gold when it came to talking to people and helping people,” he said.

“That’s the way I'm going to remember my sister," he said.

Marci Pinkowski, a Bensalem resident who worked at the farm store with Janice Gallagher as a teenager, said everybody who worked with her found her hilarious, and loved her.

“She was just one of those people you couldn’t help but care about," she said.

When Pinkowski's sister was in kindergarten, she didn't want to go, and gave her mother a hard time. When Janice Gallagher found out, she told Pinkowski's sister to come to her at the end of the week if she had been good all week.

Gallagher gave her Garbage Pail Kid trading cards, as an incentive to keep being good, every week for two years, Pinkowksi said.

“She just had that great way about her," she said.

Several people who worked at the farm store as kids came to the viewing for Gallagher. Pinkowski said one of them drove from Pittsburgh to pay his respects to her.

“People just loved her so much," she said.

The last few years of her life she spent working part-time at Bensalem police, where she was well-liked, according to Township Public Safety Director William McVey.

“You wouldn’t find anyone who had a bad word to say about her," he said.

Those feelings were shared by Bucks County Sheriff Fred Harran, who, up until this week, held McVey's position in the township for many years.

“There’s not even words to describe her," he said. "She didn’t have a bad bone in her body."

McVey said Janice Gallagher worked at the department's communication center. She was skilled at finding addresses for wanted defendants, and would send them letters to try to get them to turn themselves in instead of police coming to arrest them.

She did similar work while her husband was a constable, prior to him becoming judge in 2016.

“She was a huge asset with helping the officers on the street," McVey said.

Harran said she gave 100% to the job.

Michael Gallagher said she loved the job, and she became very close with all the officers, who were were pallbearers at her funeral Monday.

McVey estimated there were about 80 to 90 officers at her viewing as well.

“Basically our whole entire department that wasn’t on the street was there," he said, adding that it was a testament to who she was.

In addition to giving back to the community, Janice Gallagher enjoyed crossword puzzles, word searches and spending time outside, according to her obituary.

She died following a single-car crash on Ford Road the afternoon of Dec. 28. Investigators believe she may have suffered a medical event prior to the crash.

Her brother said the incident was an unexpected tragedy.

“We’re all going to miss her," he said.

Janice Gallagher, right, pictured with her husband, District Judge Michael Gallagher. Janice Gallagher, 66, died following a car crash in Bensalem last month.
Janice Gallagher, right, pictured with her husband, District Judge Michael Gallagher. Janice Gallagher, 66, died following a car crash in Bensalem last month.

This article originally appeared on Bucks County Courier Times: 'She had a heart of gold': Janice Gallgher, Bensalem community member, remembered

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