James Galer ’56

James Floyd Galer, “Mr. Lucky,” surrounded by his family, took his final ride on the 20th Century Limited to be with his Lord on Saturday, September 7, 2019, at age 84. 

He was born on November 10, 1934, in Troy, New York to DeForest Irvin and Elizabeth (Hallock) Galer during the height of the Great Depression. He spent his childhood growing up in East Greenbush, New York, enjoying all things that are upstate New York, and watching his father and mother navigate the challenges of the second World War. Jim was preceded in death by his father and mother, DeForest Irvin and Elizabeth (Hallock) Galer, and his brother-in-law and sister, John “Jack” Ring III and Jeanne (Galer) Ring. 

He is survived by his wife of 61 years Marilyn Klyn Galer, daughter Suzanne Jeanne Galer Wert (Brian), son James Klyn Galer (Julie), granddaughter Ryleigh Elisabeth Galer, grandson Mitchell Garrison Galer, and many special nieces and nephews. 

Jim received his bachelor’s degree from Hope College where he met the love of his life, Marilyn, whom he married shortly after graduating while on leave from the U.S. Army. He spent two years as a statistician in the Army Scientific Branch during which his daughter Suzanne was born in an Army hospital. Jim went on to begin his teaching career and complete his master’s degree at State University of New York with supplemental work at Wayne State University in Detroit, Michigan. Relocating to West Michigan to be closer to his wife’s family, Jim continued teaching mathematics at Zeeland High School where he was for 38 years, eventually becoming department chair. 

Jim had many interests in life he loved reading history and spent much of his time in later years doing historical puppet shows for local grade schools and serving as a teacher and docent for the Jenison Museum and the Ramsdell Theater in Manistee, Michigan. He served on the Jamestown Planning Commission for many years. He was a deacon and an elder at Central Reformed Church in Grand Rapids, where he enjoyed their music program. He loved classical music and enjoyed attending the symphony regularly. He loved his adopted State of Michigan and its lakes, but also spent much time travelling the U.S. and world. 

Above all, Jim was a gentleman and a storyteller. He loved to host gatherings of relatives and friends and tell stories of family experiences and travels past. He loved to hear about what others were doing in their lives, especially from his grandchildren and those close to him. He loved to share life-lessons he learned in the Army with students and family alike.

Return to Current In Memoriam