Living life on his own terms
Marking 100 years is a milestone that surprises James Gallina.
“I didn't expect to live until 70,” Gallina said.
The Rostraver Township man has battled cancer and a heart attack. Doctors diagnosed Gallina with bladder cancer in the early 1990s. He suffered a heart attack a few years ago.
“The doctors are keeping me going,” Gallina said. “If it wasn't for the doctors, I'd have been gone years ago. I have three doctors who look after me.”
Gallina, who has been hospitalized a half-dozen times, is a fighter.
He was born May 2, 1913, in Sault Ste. Marie, Ontario. He grew up on the family farm, but lived in the city.
Gallina went to work in the Algoma Steel Co. in Sault Ste. Marie when he was 16.
“At 16, they paid me a boy's wages, not a man's wages,” Gallina said. “By the time I turned 18, the Depression came and they shut down the plant.
“My dad had horses which he used to haul coal, wood. That was the only income we had during the Depression.”
Gallina eventually moved to Pittsburgh, where his aunt lived. He moved to Rostraver Township in 1971.
He worked various odd jobs before enlisting in the Army in December 1942. After a year stateside, he was shipped to England, where he served for six months.
He went to France right after the D-Day invasion on June 6, 1944. Gallina served with the 90th General Hospital in Bar Le Duc, France as a maintenance man. He worked in a small shop located just outside the hospital. Gallina still receives a modest pension for “a little scrape” he received during the war. The hospital was strafed on a few occasions by German fighter pilots, mostly toward the end of the war, Gallina said. During one such attack, he was struck in the forehead by a stone kicked up in the gunfire.
Gallina got his naturalization papers while in the Army, becoming a U.S. Citizen.
He was discharged in January 1946.
After the war, Gallina worked at Continental Can, retiring in 1978 after 30 years service.
Although neighbors to his mobile home in Van Meter look after him, Gallina said he enjoys his independence. He still drives his Jeep, but he doesn't go out after dark.
A golf bag with clubs sits near his front door. But Gallina admits he hasn't hit the links in 20 years, right before his cancer diagnoses.
Still he gets enjoyment tending his garden.
“I'm waiting for the warm weather so I can get out and work in my garden,” Gallina said. “I have a third of an acre. I grow everything, and give it to my neighbors.”
Gallina has a niece and nephew in Michigan, but no other family. Never married, he has outlived most of his family.
“I enjoyed my life,” Gallina said. “My life was OK.”
As he approaches the century mark, Gallina lives life on his own terms.
“I'm going to die here – I'm not going into a home,” Gallina said. “I have no intentions of going into a home. I've been to a few homes to look after some friends.
“I didn't like the look of them.”
Chris Buckley is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 724-684-2642 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Three drug arrests in Donora
- Woman accused of dealing drugs in Donora
- Preservation project set for I-70 bridge
- Octogenarian priest recalls his early days growing up in Donora
- Salvation Army honors do-gooders
- Charleroi mayor updates progress on master plan
- Raptor system helps to protect Ringgold students
- Charleroi Area putting comprehensive plan together
- Trick-or-treat times set for Mon Valley
- Questions remain in fatal Union accident
- Allegheny official sees bright future