Highest honor

Frankie Gallagher awarded 2018 Woman of the Year

DEDICATED Gallagher has given service to many organizations, including the Pavilion at the San Benito County Fair and the VFW. Photo: Robert Eliason

Upon meeting Frankie Gallagher, you will be greeted with a boisterous hello and made to feel like the most important person in the room. Her exuberant personality shines through—as she dedicates herself to you and your conversation—100 percent.

If Gallagher puts this kind of dedication into a stranger, it shouldn’t be a surprise to learn she puts in twofold for those people and things she loves.

It’s this kind of dedication that’s led Gallagher to be named The Woman of the Year by San Benito County (SBC) Chamber of Commerce for 2018.

Nominees are reviewed by previous honorees who choose the winner based upon their exceptional contributions to the community.

Paul Rovella, SBC Chamber of Commerce Man of the Year for 2017, has volunteered with Gallagher in different organizations, and considers her to be the perfect pick for this year’s award.

“I have a really hard time thinking of anybody who is more deserving of this honor, man or woman, than Frankie Gallagher,” Rovella says. “She’s very selfless when it comes to volunteering and supporting various events. I’m very happy for her.”

In the 22 years that Gallagher has been a Hollister resident, she has held such roles as co-chair and emcee of the Hollister Veterans Memorial Parade, co-chair of the Veterans of Foreign War Post 9242 Golf Tournament Fundraiser, chairperson of the Pavilion at the San Benito County Fair, and vice president and president of San Benito County Chamber of Commerce.

These are only a few roles the San Jose native has held in Hollister, all while working at Hazel Hawkins Memorial Hospital as the director of marketing since 2002.

“It’s quite an honor,” she says of the award. “It’s very gratifying to be able to feel like you’re doing something positive for the community and also make the personal friends that you make.”

When she first moved to Hollister in 1996, Gallagher was a single parent, and looking for a rural town to raise her 10-year-old son Kyle in. She was looking for a place to call home and would allow Kyle to embrace his love of John Deere.

“I wanted to live in a community that I felt had a small town feel with a sense of community, and where A: you feel you can make a difference, and B: was a great place to raise a family,” she says. “So that’s what drew me here.”

After moving to Hollister, Kyle joined the Future Farmers of America (FFA) and 4-H, and Gallagher became a 4-H leader for two years and served on the FFA Ag Booster board for two years.

She also became involved in the SBC Chamber of Commerce when she began working at Hazel Hawkins, and has since been a member of the chamber for 16 years.

Gallagher was fortunate enough, through volunteering, to have also met her husband, Dick Gallagher, in 2010. Dick, a Persian Gulf War Navy Veteran, is a member of the VFW Post 9242. The couple met during Hollister’s Veterans Day Parade in 2010, where Frankie was announcing; they have now been married for six years.

Frankie says when she married Dick, he had a ready-made family with her son, Kyle, now 31, but in April 2017, the couple also legally adopted an adult friend of Kyle’s, Rebecca, 24-years-old. Gallagher says Rebecca already felt like part of the family, but they wanted to make it official through adoption. The Gallaghers also share a granddaughter through Rebecca; Katelyn, who is 3-years old.

Dick Gallagher couldn’t be happier to see his wife receive this honor.

“I’m so proud of her never-ending passion for the community,” he says. And this kind of passion does not stop with Frankie Gallagher, either.

Her son Kyle received many accolades for his involvement with FFA in high school, and is now working for his beloved John Deere as a Service Manager in Nebraska. While Gallagher has enjoyed her time volunteering and serving many organizations, she does have favorites among her list. Chairing the Pavilion at the San Benito County Fair the past two years is high on that list, but working with the VFW has probably been the most satisfying, she says.

“I didn’t serve our country—those folks did,” she says. “But being able to serve them in some kind of form or fashion is just an absolute honor.”

And the VFW is honored to work with Gallagher.

George Nava, commander of Hollister Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 9242, praises Gallagher for co-chairing the VFW Golf Tournament for the past two years, as well as co-chairing the Veterans Day parade since 2008.

“She does a lot for everyone in the community,” Nava says. “She’s just like us in combat—she does the things that need to be done at the time. She’s one heck of a lady.”

Former Commander of VFW Post 9242, Bernie Ramirez, agrees.

Ramirez says that when he first became Commander in 2014, Gallagher helped him a lot with organizing such events as the Veterans Day Parade.

“She held my hand through a lot of it,” he says. “If it wasn’t for her, I’d have been lost. I have the utmost respect and praise for her.”

Gallagher says it’s truly an honor to be named Woman of the Year. However, she does hesitate to take full credit for it.

“They say it takes a village, and it truly does,” she says.

Gallagher is truly grateful to have found this village, saying she has made some incredible friends throughout the years.

“I finally found a place where I really felt that I was home,” she says.

 

Gallagher will be honored at The Chamber Annual Awards Dinner and Dance, held on Saturday, Jan. 27 from 6-11pm. at San Juan Oaks, 3825 Union Road, Hollister. The Chamber will honor the Man, Woman & Businesses of the Year for 2018. For tickets and more information, visit sanbenitocountychamber.com or contact [email protected]

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