Terry Gallaher retires from juvenile court

Posted 11/4/17

After 25 years of

serving Bradley County, Terry Gallaher is leaving the Juvenile Court program,

though with sadness in his heart for leaving a position he said he could

honestly love and …

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Terry Gallaher retires from juvenile court


After 25 years of serving Bradley County, Terry Gallaher is leaving the Juvenile Court program, though with sadness in his heart for leaving a position he said he could honestly love and a staff of whom he has grown very fond.

Gallaher recently retired as director of the program for a number of reasons, none of which is the job itself. Personal issues, including the death of his son, and medical problems have led to the retirement.

"I will be having back surgery and be out of commission for several weeks," he said. The back issue is one of many ailments Gallaher has had to deal with over the past few months, including a broken ankle.

For several weeks, one would catch Gallaher with a rolling leg scooter, though now, it would be difficult to see he has any medical issues.

Yet, he felt it was time to move on from the juvenile court.

"Though I am personally saddened by leaving the program, I know my physical condition and other losses which I have sustained in my personal life make it appropriate for me to allow you and the other employees to work with new leadership," Gallaher said in his resignation letter to Juvenile Court Judge Dan Swafford

One of those other issues is the death of his son, Brian, in a traffic accident on Interstate 75 at the Ooltewah exit. He and his wife, Sharon, have been watching for the progress of the justice system in a trial for the driver of the tractor-trailer that killed their son.

Vickie Towne, who will be sworn in as the new director for the juvenile courts on Monday at 3 p.m., said it would not be the same without Gallaher.

"Terry has worked diligently with many partners and programs to ensure an efficient and effective juvenile court system," she said. "Bradley County has a juvenile court that many across the staff have worked to replicate, and Terry is a great contributor to this.

"Terry has been a mentor and a friend to me and my family," Towne said. "He has been an advocate for juveniles in our community and has instilled those values to me as an employee of Bradley County Juvenile Court."

Judge Dan Swafford will be swearing in Towne Monday, and he, too, said he will miss Gallaher.

"Terry Gallaher is a man of true Christian character and integrity who has served our community with honor and distinction for 25 years," Swafford said. "I can say with absolute certainty I would not be serving as juvenile judge without his help and support.

"I pray retirement will be the beginning of a new adventure for Terry," the judge continued. "I will always love him like my own brother."

Those sentiments were voiced, on behalf of the staff, by Shannon Doan, behavior unit and recovery court coordinator for the Bradley County Juvenile Court.

"He truly has a heart for people and wanted that to be translated through his staff, our court, and through the resources we provide," she said. "His leadership and friendship have been monumental in so many ways to influence each of us and our community, and he will be truly missed."

Nancy Stanfield, who has worked with the Juvenile Courts even longer than Gallaher, said he is a member of the family at juvenile courts, and his leaving is like a brother moving on.

And when Gallaher told others of his retirement, one of the first to learn of the move was Bradley County Commissioner Bill Winters. The two have known each other for years, not only with Winters being a commissioner, but an educator and friend.

"When I heard that Terry Gallaher had retired, I responded to him that 'I hoped that he was retiring from athletics,' having been a national champ in basketball, in many racquetball tournaments, and competitor against me in several softball tourneys," Winters said.  "To my disappointment, he responded he was, in fact, retiring as director of juvenile services."

The county commissioner said Gallaher "is a true champ in every sense of the word — son, husband, father, grandfather and probation officer and administrative officer to the juvenile judge and director of juvenile services for Bradley County. "We will surely miss Terry Gallaher, a role model, caring father who is still grieving his son Brian's death, and a Christian gentleman who always respected the taxpayers’ resources and managed them beyond the funding allocation.

"He was truly called to intervene in the lives of our troubled kids and bring them a 'hope and future.' I will work to continue Terry's legacy of hope for the youth of Bradley County," Winters added.

Gallaher said he does not know what his future will be after leaving juvenile court, though he will still visit his "family" at juvenile court. Several of the staff reminded him of his baking prowess, and joked he will have to continue to bake his apple pies and bringing them to the office.

"The juvenile court will run great without me, I have no doubt," he said, "but I will really miss everyone here."




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