PITTSFIELD - Michael D. Gallagher, 72, of Pittsfield, Vermont, passed away Thursday, October 3, 2013, at his home.He was born October 3, 1941, in Yonkers, NY, the son of Donald M. and June (Scherer) Gallagher.
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He was raised in Rutland, VT, and graduated in 1959 from Rutland High School. He attended Colorado University in Boulder on an athletic scholarship for several years, arranged to train with the Norwegian team in 1964 for the Olympics, and earned his bachelor's degree in 1967 from Castleton State College.
The word of Mike's passing has left a large hole in many hearts, both in this country and abroad. Gallagher was an inspiration to many in the sport of cross-country skiing for decades.
His father was a veteran of the 10th Mountain Division, and as a young man Gallagher developed a taste for alpine ski racing. While he excelled in those disciplines he pursued cross country skiing, as it complemented his natural ability for running. As a racer he made three Olympic teams and three FIS World Championship Ski teams, and racked up an impressive nine U.S. National titles. His most cherished result was placing 19th at the Holmenkollen 50km classic in 1968.
Gallagher went on to serve as Head Coach for the U.S. Ski Team from 1980-1986, years in which it was an international power. He also became a highly skilled bicycle racer for a number of years. Later in his career he spent many years as the Nordic skiing director at the Mountain Top Inn and also taught skiing at Mountain Meadows. In addition he coached high school level skiing for 17 seasons.
In 1988, Mike was inducted into the National Ski Hall of Fame, as well as the Castleton State College Athletic Hall of Fame. While attending Castleton and continuing to train for the 1968 Olympics, Mike raced on the track team, setting New England State college records in the 880, one-mile and 2-mile events. In 2007 he was inducted to the Vermont Ski Museum Hall of Fame for all his contributions to the Nordic ski industry; and in 2011 he was inducted into the Mount Washington Road Race Hall of Fame. He was the first person to win the road race four times, and he did it in four consecutive years from 1968 to 1971.
At all levels this indefatigable Vermonter has left a mark and his love of life, of family, and of storytelling. His Irish songs sung with great gusto in the sauna, his kind and sentimental side, and his toughness, was the stuff of legend. Never did he tire of talking about cross-country skiing and never did we tire of listening.
Mike is survived by his wife Tyna Baird Gallagher; his sons Jesse Gallagher of Alaska and Vermont; and Sean Gallagher of Pittsfield, VT; and grandson Andrew.
A Celebration of Life will be held at the family's homestead in Pittsfield, Vermont, on Sunday, November 3, 2013, at 12 p.m.
Memorial contributions may be made to: Rutland Public School Scholarship Fund, Ref: Michael Gallagher, 6 Church Street, Rutland, VT 05701.
Published in Rutland Herald from Oct. 8 to Oct. 9, 2013