Rita Ida Gallagher (neé Brieden) passed away July 15 at her home in Ocean Township with her daughter Laurajane Wikoff by her side and one of her favorite Frank Sinatra songs playing in the background. She was 94 years old and was born in Jersey City.
Everyone who knew Rita thought of her as an immeasurably loving, optimistic, strong and smart woman. She had an infectious sense of humor that won everyone over. She was self-sacrificing and always willing to help anyone in need. She always had kind words to say about everyone she met. She was an adoring wife, mother, grandmother, great-grandmother and friend. She had a passion for sewing and painting and often blessed her family and friends with handmade gifts that they treasured. She loved traveling with her husband Harold “Gal” and would often boast about the 32 cross-country trips they made by car. The only state she never saw was Oregon.
Whenever misfortune struck, Rita’s advice was, “You play the hand you’re dealt and make lemonade.” She experienced many difficult times during her life but never lost her hopefulness. She lost the love of her life, her husband Gal, in 2009. Rita and Gal met in high school when she was 15 years old. They were even more in love after 67 years of marriage than on the day they wed. They would often be seen holding hands like newlyweds.
Rita is survived by her three children, Barbara Gallagher of New York City, Dr. Dean Gallagher and his wife Donna of Highlands, and Laurajane Wikoff and her husband Bill of Little Silver; five grandchildren, Sean Johnson, Tara Brown, Tyler Ellis, Brooke Gallagher and Devin Gallagher; and four great-grandchildren, Wayne Johnson and Jake, Evan and Caden Brown.
All arrangements are private and under the direction of Thompson Memorial Home, Red Bank.
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