Hellen Irene Galloway

July 16, 1925October 4, 2021

Irene Galloway was born in Nebo, North Carolina in July of 1925. As her father Walter worked his way up the ladder as a railroad telegrapher, the family settled in Clyde, NC, where he built a stone house which stands today. Irene’s mother, Hattie, had a farm background and many skills including gardening and sewing. The combination of her talents with Walter’s solid employment with the railroad helped the family of six endure the Great Depression better than many. The focus of the family became the education of the four siblings.

While Irene was finishing high school, several of her male teachers had to suddenly depart for service in World War Two. While the depression had been grim, this was a very uncertain time. Nevertheless, Irene took the train to Greensboro to begging her four year education at UNCG in 1942, where she prepared for a career as a social worker.

In spite of the unexpected departure of some key high school teachers, Irene met the academic challenges with vigor and success. There was another challenge, however, which she met with equal courage and grace. While most of her classmates were from North Carolina, very few were from the mountains. Most came from the eastern counties with a different “debutante” culture. Somehow, wearing the dresses hand sewn by her mother, Hattie, she adapted to a larger world where she thrived and met women who would inspire her for a lifetime. One of her classmates, Mary Sanford, signed her 1946 senior yearbook with much affection and was a lifelong friend. Mary’s brother, Terry, a paratrooper during the war, later became governor of North Carolina.

Irene began her career as a social worker in Asheville, working out of the third floor of the Buncombe County Courthouse. It was there where she met Grady Galloway, who worked on the fourth floor. Over coffee, she learned that Grady had served as a Coast Guard officer in World War Two, and was then working as a vocational counsellor for the handicapped. Coffee led to lunch and lunch led to destiny.

While Irene juggled cases of child placement and foster care, Grady assisted the handicapped (many of them veterans) in findings work and independence. Service was in their blood, but they had more in common. Grady also had three siblings with education as a family focus, but with even fewer resources for higher education. Nevertheless, they all completed four years at Western Carolina College and eventually received advanced degrees. Irene and Grady shared the notion that faith, work and education made anything possible. They were married in Clyde and bought a house in Asheville.

By 1966, the Galloway home also had two sons, Neal and Mark, and a Dalmatian named Pepper. At that time, Grady was “kicked upstairs” to his new job as Executive Director of the NC State Commission for the Blind in Raleigh. With Grady already in Raleigh, Irene drove the boys and the dog from Ashville in a 1962 Ford Falcon. Grady had the newer car, a 1964 red Volkswagen beetle with license #75, a perk from his new job. Irene was soon helping children in Wake County find homes as she had in Asheville, and Grady continued to match resources with individuals to maximize their potential for work and independence. They both loved their work.

The family rented a farm in Garner for a year. While Irene was traveling about Wake County for her job, she came up a quiet street in Cary which she found not only a great neighborhood, but a new house for sale. After convincing Grady that it was possible to grow a garden in the suburban back yard, he agreed. It would be Irene’s home for the next 53 years.

Irene and Grady shared many interests, including ballroom dance. Cary’s Jordan Hall hosted weekly dances for many years, and the couple enjoyed demonstrating their different steps. Sometimes, Grady would suddenly switch to a “hillbilly clog” step to get some laughs. Irene would just roll her eyes.

After retirement, the couple traveled abroad to visit many of the sites Grady had seen during the war, including Sicily, Salerno, Normandy and Morocco. Grady’s ship, the USCGS Joseph T. Dickman, was involved in these landings and more. At Salerno, Irene saw the medieval tower which guided Grady’s scout boat to the landing site. In Morocco, she and Grady rode a camel. When the family saw that picture, we just rolled our eyes.

Irene loved her faith, family and friends as much as her many flowers. She inspires us now as ever. The dance never ends.


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Hellen Irene Galloway

have a memory or condolence to add?

Casey Midkiff

October 14, 2021

Irene was a lovely neighbor, and we have enjoyed getting to know her at our mailbox chats. We will miss seeing her out and about. May she rest in peace.

Angela Baker

October 8, 2021

Irene was a lovely lady. As long as she was able I would see her out in her front yard caring for her flowers or mowing her lawn. Later I would sometimes see her out with her walker headed to the mailbox. May she Rest In Peace