Oelwein Daily Register
From the senior editorial staff of the Husky Register, 1985-86
It was with deepest regret that we, the senior staff of the OCHS Husky Register in the school year 1985-86, learned the news of the recent passing of one of our mentors, Marilyn Gallo, at the age of 94.
We were comforted to learn that she left this world peacefully, with her family by her side. We offer our sincere sympathies to her family and closest friends, and we hope and pray that warm memories of Marilyn will help ease the pain from your loss.
Immediate memories washed through our brains when we heard the news, mostly of strawberries. Marilyn loved strawberry decor. It put a smile on her face that was contagious. A gift that included a strawberry wouldn’t change your grade, but it sure didn’t hurt.
We shared memories of leaving school and driving to the Oelwein Daily Register office each Monday to see final prepress layouts, hoping that the copy desk had somehow magically made the content fit on the page.
Artist Russ Fagle even penned his first “Bud & Frankie” cartoon in 34 years, in Marilyn’s honor. Russ has visited Marilyn many times over the years and said he was thankful for all she taught him, as are the rest of us. Marilyn was our teacher-lady.
The year 1986 was a tough year to be a senior at Oelwein High School. The football team was one extra point away from a Northeast Iowa Conference championship. The basketball team was one shot away from the state tournament. Those are insignificant tragedies, though, when you remember that the space shuttle exploded that year. Then in the spring, two dear schoolmates drowned in a awful accident. So much more happened, some of it good, some of it bad.
We covered it all in the Husky Register. It appeared once a week on these pages in the Oelwein Daily Register, and sometimes we kids scooped the pros here. Marilyn loved when we did that.
The senior editorial staff at the Husky Register in 1986 was a busy bunch, and collectively won more awards and accolades than any other staff under the tutelage of Marilyn Gallo. At least that’s what Marilyn told us once, and she would know. The Husky Register was her baby.
Steve Martin covered sports and recreation, Megan (Weber) Brough covered anything that needed covered, Russ Fagle drew editorial cartoons, Chris Kotscher took photos and developed film, Gary Walrath penned zany and abstract columns, James Grob did as much muckraking and trouble-making as he could get away with, and editor Christine (Batterson) Cheli kept everyone in line and on topic as best as she could.
And everyone — and we mean every one of us — reported and edited hard news the right way. Marilyn Gallo meant business.
Her toughness, however, was not what we remember the most. It was her kindness, her thoughtfulness, her strawberry smile. She cared that we learned, to be sure, but she cared about us, and we could tell.
She wasn't the first person to encourage any of us to write, but Marilyn was the first person to encourage us to write right. At the Husky Register, we had high ethical standards, we did not cut corners, we owned up to mistakes. Marilyn wouldn’t have it any other way.
And although only a few of us went on to become writers, those characteristics and work habits were instilled into us, and they’ve carried over into whatever occupations we’ve pursued. That’s teaching, and that’s what Marilyn Gallo did. If the rest of the world could have had just one semester with her, this would be far a better place.
As a writer, the extent of her vocabulary was beyond belief. In short, Marilyn Gallo had one hell of a lot of words at her disposal, and she knew how to use them, and she loved teaching us how to use them.
Once in a while Marilyn sent one of us a message. Nothing long-winded. Usually it was something along the lines of, “I liked your article. Very nice. How are the wife and kids?”
A little note like that would make you beam a little. Sometimes the little words mean the most. Marilyn taught us that.
And we’re reminded of author E.B. White, who wrote, "It is not often that someone comes along who is a true friend and a good writer."
No doubt, Marilyn Gallo was both.
With love and respect,
The senior editorial staff of the Husky Register, 1985-86 James Grob, Russ Fagle, Steve Martin, Christine (Batterson) Cheli, Christian Kotscher, Gary Walrath, Megan (Weber) Brough.
Oelwein Daily Register
From the family of Marilyn Gallo
Marilyn Gallo, 94, of Oelwein Passed away Tuesday September 15, 2020. Public visitation will be from 4:00-7:00 PM on Thursday September 17, 2020 at the Geilenfeld-Buehner Funeral Home in Oelwein. Private Funeral Mass will be held at 10:30 AM on Friday September 18, 2020 at Sacred Heart Catholic Church in Oelwein, and will be limited to family.
Interment will be in Woodlawn Cemetery at Oelwein. For condolences, please visit www.geilenfeldfh.com. Due to state and federal guidelines on gatherings regarding the COVID-19 pandemic, social distancing is required. Those in attendance are required to wear a mask.
Marilyn Gallo lived a full life. Intelligent, well-traveled, intellectually curious, highly educated, a voracious reader, and caring. Marilyn made a positive mark on many.
We, her children, consider ourselves lucky and proud to call her "Mom." Our dad, Vic Gallo, was fortunate to call Marilyn his wife for more than 50 years.
To many in Oelwein, Marilyn was a favorite teacher, a good friend, an involved citizen, an active member of her church, and a gifted writer. One could not accompany her downtown without slotting time for chats with her many friends. She was a gem!
Marilyn Louise Miller was born on September 18, 1925 in Sumner, lowa to Adolph and Helen Miller. She earned a BA in Journalism at the University of Iowa. Marilyn's professional life was that of a writer. It shaped her life.
Around Oelwein, Marilyn was best-known as Mrs. Gallo. For more than 25 years, she taught writing. Hundreds of Oelwein High School students benefited from her steady hand and tutelage. She loved teaching, and her students loved her. Teaching, however, was not her first calling. It was Journalism. Marilyn started in the newspaper business as a cub reporter at the Oelwein Daily Register, where Marilyn met our dad, Vic Gallo, who was a sportswriter.
The two were very different. Vic was gregarious, outgoing, and unafraid to state his opinion. Marilyn was none of that. She was more reserved, disliked the spotlight, and generally kept her opinions to herself. Still, they forged a functional, loving, lasting partnership.
Shortly thereafter, they migrated to Strawberry Point and bought an excellent small town weekly, The Press Journal. They did it all, from running the press to selling ads, to writing copy. Marilyn's weekly column, "Strawberries 'n Cream,” won many state writing awards. Once, a fan of the column sent her a strawberry plate, in honor of those awards. That became the seed for her passion for all things strawberry.
Vic and Marilyn had six children, Kathy, Tom, Mary, Matt, John and Joe. In 1966 the Gallos sold the paper and moved to Des Moines, where they lived for seven eventful years. Marilyn taught at St. Joseph's Academy while in Des Moines.
Predictably, Marilyn didn't use a rocking chair in her retirement. Instead, she traveled all over the world, and read, read, read. She was a local volunteer and continued to write. In addition to her frequent letters and e-mails to family and friends, Marilyn became active in the Oelwein Writers League. Occasionally, her work appears in the Oelwein Daily Register, but mostly she wrote to stay agile. She also loved politics. She loved Rachel Maddow, and will be VERY sorry to miss this election!
Marilyn has slowed down some in her 94th year, but remained remarkable to the very end. We were blessed and honored to call her our mom. We will treasure her memory always.