Former Pitt dean Jere Gallagher remembered as ‘beautiful inside and out’
Jere Gallagher devoted her life to caring for others, whether it was her family, her friends or her many students.
As an associate dean at University of Pittsburgh’s School of Education, she spearheaded multiple initiatives to improve the lives of children and future teachers while also making sure those closest to her were always taken care of.
“She was beautiful inside and out,” said Kim Royal, a niece. “She was a very selfless person. She always put other people first.”
Gallagher, 70, died Aug. 20 at her home on Pittsburgh’s Mt. Washington. She was born in Panama City, Panama, in 1948.
She is survived by her husband of more than 30 years, H. Yale Gutnick, retired board chairman of Trib Total Media; his children, Laura and Todd Gutnick; her sister, Salli Gallagher; and several other extended family members, including nieces and nephews.
She earned her bachelor’s and master’s degrees in health and physical education from East Carolina University in Greenville, N.C., and a Ph.D. in motor development from Louisiana State University. She spent the majority of her career at Pitt.
“She was really just extremely energetic, competent,” said Alan Lesgold, former dean of Pitt’s School of Education. “She cared a lot about people.”
Lesgold said Gallagher always went above and beyond, often working on tasks well outside of her job description.
One of her most notable achievements is the Kinder Kinetics Program she developed for children ages 3-12 in the Health and Physical Activity Department, a program she directed for more than 25 years. It has since been renamed, “Pitt’s Kids: Honoring the Vision of Dr. Jere Gallagher.”
“That was really close to her heart,” Lesgold said. “She had a full-time job in the dean’s office, but that didn’t keep her from running a major summer program as well.”
Gallagher was proud of her parents’ military service and supported veterans on the Pitt campus.
Prior to her retirement, she established a fund in honor of her late parents that provides financial assistance to veterans and dependents while they pursue their education.
“I think she picked up that spirit of service from them,” Lesgold said. “I know she was very proud of both of her parents.”
Gail Luxbacher first met Gallagher when she was an undergraduate student taking Gallagher’s class. She went on to work under Gallagher while she worked on her master’s degree and doctorate.
“As a graduate student, she was my mentor,” she said. “I grew so much and learned so much.”
They eventually formed a friendship that lasted more than 30 years, with Gallagher serving as Luxbacher’s children’s godmother.
“She was the maid of honor in my wedding,” Luxbacher said. “She was the person — she and I just went to each other for everything.”
Todd Gutnick said Gallagher was an avid skier who loved spending time on a mountain with friends and family in Park City, Utah.
“Some of our best memories of Jere are the great times we had together on the mountain,” he said.
There will be no visitation. A memorial service will be held at 1:30 p.m. Wednesday at Heinz Memorial Chapel. Remembrances can be made to the University of Pittsburgh Office of Veteran’s Services or the Department of Health and Physical Activity.
Emily Balser is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Emily at 724-226-4680, [email protected] or via Twitter .