Obituary of Cornelius Gallagher
Seven-term United States Congressman Cornelius "Neil" Gallagher died at his home in Monroe Township, N.J., on October 17 at the age of 97 surrounded by his loved ones. Sharp and quick-witted until the end of his long life, Neil was a gifted lawyer and politician, passionate privacy advocate, committed civil liberties defender, decorated World War II and Korean War veteran, and proud public servant who represented New Jersey during one of the most tumultuous eras in U.S. history and politics.
As Congressman representing of New Jersey's original 13th district in the House of Representatives from 1958 to 1973, he chaired numerous Congressional committees, championed many Democratic causes and enjoyed close personal friendships with some of the most famous world figures of the day, including John F. Kennedy and Robert F. Kennedy. Most importantly, he was a devoted husband whose marriage to the late Claire Richter Gallagher spanned 61 years, father of four daughters, and a constant source of love and wisdom to 11 grandchildren and 7 great-grandchildren (with an 8th on the way).
A native of Bayonne, New Jersey, where his father was a police officer, Neil was lauded for his heroism during World War II, emerging from the conflict as a captain in the U.S. Army who earned two Purple Hearts for his bravery. After returning home, he earned his undergraduate degree from John Marshall College and his juris doctorate from John Marshall Law School, graduating as valedictorian of his class and passing the bar exam in 1947. He continued his studies at New York University in the late 1940s, at the same time becoming active in Democratic local politics, ultimately being elected freeholder of New Jersey's Hudson County in 1953 before running for Congress.
Having befriended John F. Kennedy at the 1956 Democratic Convention, Neil helped coordinate his presidential campaign in 1960, while at the same time taking on increasing levels of responsibility in the Foreign Affairs Committee, Subcommittee on Asia Pacific Affairs and House Government Operations Subcommittee on the Invasion of Privacy. Looking back on his political career, he would count legislation to support the Arms Control Agency and the Peace Corps among his greatest accomplishments, as well as helping the Johnson Administration plan an exit strategy from the Vietnam War, working to prevent Pakistani genocide in the 1970s, helping to found the nation of Bangladesh, and playing a pivotal role in the passage of the Credit Reporting Act and Freedom of Information Act.
Throughout his life, Neil often shared his thoughts on abuses to justice, privacy and civil liberties, both in the media and with those closest to him. Following his political career, he served as vice president of the Madison Avenue firm of Baron Canning, overseeing its international division. He later lectured at a number of schools and colleges, spoke and wrote articles about the degradation of privacy and the increasing intrusiveness of surveillance in the United States, and helped to frame how his involvement in such issues is portrayed in books, movies and documentaries.
Predeceased by Claire in 2004 and their eldest daughter, Diane Gallagher Brennan in 2013, Neil is survived by his daughters and sons-in-law, Christine Ranaghan-Forte and Richard Forte; Patrice and Charles Maillet; Bridget and Mark Davis; and Michael Brennan. His grandchildren include Michael Brennan II, and his wife, Abby; E. Courtnay Stanford and her husband, Eamonn; Samantha Ranaghan; Bridget Hodakowski and her husband, Marc; Kaitlin Matyasovsky and her husband, David; Lauren Smith and her husband, William; Matthew Maillet and his wife, Jillaine; Kevin Davis; Cornelius Davis; Patrick Maillet; and Andrew Davis. "Pop" will also be dearly missed by his great-grandchildren, McKenna, Jack, Michael III, Ella, Drew, Claire and Landon, as well as his step grandchildren, Michelle and Richie, and step great-grandchildren, Giana, Jennie and Gavin.
A funeral service will be held at noon on Saturday, October 20, at the First Presbyterian Church at 1 Main Street, Blairstown NJ. Arrangements are under the direction of Newbaker Funeral Home, 200 Route 94, Blairstown, NJ. Flowers can be sent to Newbaker Funeral Home.
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