Joseph A. Gallagher, 93, formerly of Villanova, the former chairman and chief executive officer of Industrial Valley Bank & Trust Co., chairman of Fidelity Bank, and a Marine Corps veteran, died Tuesday, March 8, of congestive heart failure at his home in Naples, Fla.
Born and raised in West Philadelphia and a graduate of West Catholic High School and La Salle University, Mr. Gallagher was described as a local boy who made good in a 1983 article in the Catholic Standard and Times. He was also chairman of the board of trustees at Hahnemann University, now part of Drexel University; a prolific fund-raiser for local charities and his high school and college alma maters; and the 1983 recipient of the Sourin Award for noteworthy Catholic citizenship from the Philadelphia-based Catholic Philopatrian Literary Institute.
“Joe was a man I so admired and loved. Always a smile on his face and a positive outlook on life,” a friend said in an online tribute. Another said: “He was the best man.”
Grounded in his local roots and Catholic heritage, Mr. Gallagher established both his professional career and personal life on connections to people and places in the Philadelphia area. In a 1985 story in The Inquirer, he attributed his early success at Industrial Valley Bank to knowing his customers, many of them by name.
“We know the people here,” he said. “We live near them. We go to church with them. We walk down Chestnut Street with them. We’re a home-based bank.”
His family said he was the same with them. Though he eventually owned homes in Naples and County Clare in Ireland, it was back to Villanova he came for holidays, family celebrations, and civic activities. His daughter Lisa said Mr. Gallagher was “extremely generous” and lived by this doctrine: There is no limit to the good a man can do if he doesn’t care who gets the credit.
Born March 21, 1928, Mr. Gallagher graduated from La Salle in 1950 and entered the Marine Corps. He served as a captain during the Korean War, and met Emilie MacFarland at the New Jersey Shore.
They married in 1953, lived in Drexel Hill, Haverford, and Villanova, and raised sons Joseph Jr., Stephen, and Sean, and daughters Lisa, Francine, Sheila, and Miriam. His wife died in 2010.
Mr. Gallagher started in banking as a management trainee at Land Title Bank & Trust Co. in Philadelphia and went on to a 35-year career. He joined Industrial Valley Bank in 1958, became president in 1979 and chairman in 1980.
Fidelcor Inc., the parent company of Fidelity Bank, bought IVB Financial Corp., the parent company of Industrial Valley Bank & Trust, in 1986, and Mr. Gallagher became chairman of the board at Fidelcor and chairman of the executive committee of Fidelity Bank. He retired in 1989.
“Twenty-five years ago we were just a little bank up in Kensington under the elevated train.”
Away from the office, Mr. Gallagher liked to read, travel, and hit the ball at Overbrook Golf Club and at the Vineyards Golf Club in Naples. He walked the beaches at the Jersey Shore and along the gulf coast in Florida, and talked often of his gratitude for his elementary school teachers from the Sisters of the Immaculate Heart of Mary.
“He lit up a room,” said his daughter. “He was a regular guy who treated everyone with respect. He made all of his children feel important.”
“He was a great neighbor,” a friend said in a tribute. “A true gentleman.”
In addition to his children, Mr. Gallagher is survived by 16 grandchildren, six great-grandchildren, and other relatives. A brother and sister died earlier.
A celebration of life is to be held at 9 a.m. Friday, April 22, at St. John Vianney Church, 350 Conshohocken State Rd., Gladwyne, Pa. 19035. A Funeral Mass is to follow at 10:15.
Donations in his name may be made to GratitudeAmerica, P.O. Box 16956, Fernandina Beach, Fla. 32035.