Milton teacher, coach, soldier passes into history

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Saturday, July 10, 2010
— Jack Gallun taught history. He also made history.

The longtime Milton teacher and coach died Wednesday. He was 80.

Gallun was a part of world history as he fought in the Iron Triangle during some of the worst combat of the Korean War.

He was humble about his own contributions, said friend and fellow teacher Rod Hilton, who didn’t know until he read his friend’s obituary that Gallun had earned two Bronze Stars.

Gallun used his experiences to bring history home to his students, Hilton said.

“Jack could spin a yarn as well as anyone,” Hilton said. “He was never one to boast. He just talked about the realities of war and the lessons he learned from it.”

Friend and fellow teacher Dan Reese agreed: “Jack was very proud of his country, and he was very proud of his service in Korea, and that came up quite often.

“He believed that in his teaching that he wanted to instill a lot of those types of patriotic feelings that he felt in the kids,” Reese said.

Reese said Gallun had the grace of an old-fashioned gentleman.

“Jack was one of these guys who believed in doing your best at whatever you did, and he had strong values that he dates back to his neighborhood in Milwaukee. His family there instilled in him a strong work ethic,” Reese said.

“He was an excellent history teacher,” recalled another longtime colleague, Bob Johnson. “He exceeded expectations as far as discipline in his classroom. He was one of those guys from the old school. When he gave instructions to the class, the class listened.”

Nevertheless, he had a good rapport with students and was well liked, Johnson said.

Gallun made a mark on local history as a successful coach and the district’s longtime athletics director.

Gallun’s 1965 football team went undefeated. The kids from tiny Milton were ranked in the top 10 in the state at a time before schools were divided into divisions based on size.

Gallun also coached basketball, baseball and swimming. As athletics director, he enthusiastically oversaw the introduction of girls sports, Hilton said.

Hilton played on the 1965 team, which ended its season by beating undefeated Waunakee.

Gallun’s practices were grueling, and part of the team’s success was no doubt due to superior conditioning, Hilton said.

Gallun was a drill sergeant after the war, “and that was how he ran the football team. He was old school, no doubt about it,” Hilton said. “We worked very hard, and it paid off. … In those days everybody respected coaches, and they didn’t second-guess him, and we just loved the man.”

Hilton was “sick as a dog” just days before the big game with Waunakee when Gallun called.

“Jack said, ‘Rod, we’re having team pictures tonight, and I don’t want you to miss it.’”

Not every coach would pay attention to such a detail, Hilton said, but Gallun, for all his old-school exterior, had a soft heart.

Hilton couldn’t remember Gallun saying anything to the team after that final victory in ’65. What he does remember is Gallun’s grin, from a guy whose smiles usually amounted to no more than a twinkle in his eyes.

“I remember him just beaming,” Hilton said. “To see that full, toothy smile was awesome. He was very, very proud of us.”

Gallun is survived by Nancy, his wife of 54 years, and two daughters, whom he also was very proud of, Reese said.

The funeral is set for 10 a.m. Monday at St. Mary Catholic Church in Milton.

Burial at St. Mary Cemetery will include full military honors. Visitation is 4-7 p.m. Sunday at the church.

Last updated: 2:24 pm Thursday, December 13, 2012

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