Paul H. Gallatin, 3 November 1931 to 5 April 2019
Note: Though it is not mentioned in this obituary, Father Gallatin taught religion to many of us at McGuinness during our 1958-1962 sojourn, and was Confessor to several of us. He also celebrated Mass at several of our reunion events and was a Guest Member of our Website.
Rev. Paul H. Gallatin died April 5, 2019. Father Gallatin was born on November 3, 1931, in Tulsa, Okla., to Paul and Esther (Wallace) Gallatin. After attending Marquette School and Marquette High School in Tulsa, he studied at Saint John’s Seminary in Little Rock, Ark. He was ordained a priest at Holy Family Cathedral in Tulsa on May 24, 1958.
He faithfully served the Diocese of Oklahoma City and Tulsa, and later the Archdiocese of Oklahoma City, for more than 60 years. Father Gallatin served as pastor of Saint Joseph, Buffalo, (1965-67); Saint Mary, Ardmore (1967-71); Corpus Christi, Oklahoma City (1971-1982); Saint Francis Xavier, Enid, and its mission (1982-88), and Saint Charles Borromeo, Oklahoma City (1988-2008). He served as associate pastor of Saint Charles Borromeo, Oklahoma City (1958-65). Although he retired from active ministry in 2008, he continued to serve the archdiocese filling in where needed.
Among his many honors, Father Gallatin received the Fr. Stanley Rother Faithful Shepherd Award in 2017, and the National Federation of Priests’ Council’s (NFPC) President’s Award in 1991. In addition to serving his parishes, he served on board of directors of Saint Ann Nursing Home, on the Vocations Board, Priests’ Council, the national board of the NFPC, as state chaplain for YCS, and as Regional Vicar for Region VII.
He is survived by niece Teresa O’Rourke, nephews Donald O’Rourke, Paul O’Rourke, and Stephen O’Rourke, and many great-nieces and great-nephews. He was preceded in death by his parents, his sister, Mary Catherine Allbritton, and his brother, Patrick Joseph Gallatin.
The Priest and the Blogger: How OS Brought Joy to a Patient, by Steve Blevins, January 7, 2010 (added by Tom Walker)
One of the joys of practicing medicine is getting to know patients. In sixteen years of practice, I’ve met some extraordinary individuals. None have been more extraordinary than Father Paul Gallatin.
Father Gallatin is a retired Catholic priest in Oklahoma City. He’s a delightful person and a fine raconteur. I always look forward to his visits. We have common interests: reading and travel. He usually schedules his appointment at the end of the day, which allows me to spend more time with him.
Conversing with him is a pleasure. He is thoughtful, witty, and kind. At each visit, he gives me a book. On one occasion, he brought The Viper’s Tangle, a novel by Francois Mauriac. On another occasion, he brought Diary of a Country Priest by Georges Bernanos. Like me, he is a Francophile. He loves French literature, gothic cathedrals, French cuisine, and the landscape of Provence.
One summer afternoon after a long day in the clinic, I went to my office, logged on to the computer, and visited Open Salon. Checking the “Updates,” I noticed that one of my favorite writers, Paul J. O’Rourke, had published a post. (Paul lives in Massachusetts. He’s a splendid writer – and very witty.) The post was entitled “George Washington Slept in My Uncle Albert’s Bed.” It was a true story about an ancestor who came to America in 1780, taught French at Harvard, and moved to Pennsylvania where he met George Washington.
Reading the post, I was struck by the name of Paul’s ancestor: Albert Gallatin. I sent Paul a message inquiring about the name, mentioning that I had a patient named Gallatin, a retired Catholic priest. Paul's reply left me speechless: His uncle was a retired Catholic priest in Oklahoma City; his name -- Gallatin! For a moment, I thought Paul was joking. I sent him a message, scolding him for playing tricks. Paul responded by referring me to another of his posts: “Freedom! A Childhood Lesson in Civil Rights.”
I read it. It was a marvelous tribute to a beloved uncle – a man who had marched from Selma to Montgomery with Martin Luther King, who had struggled for racial equality, who had advocated for the humane treatment of all living creatures -- who had been a Catholic priest in Oklahoma City – who would become, as it would turn out, my patient, Father Gallatin! For the first time, my life as a physician had merged with my life as an Open Salonist. I had learned about my patient's extraordinary life by reading Open Salon!
When Father Gallatin returned to the clinic several weeks later, I told him I had an essay I wanted him to read. I gave him his nephew’s OS piece.
At first, he was perplexed. He looked curiously at the page. Then epiphany struck. Curiosity gave way to amazement. He smiled and began to chuckle. Soon he was laughing, making no attempt to conceal his delight. I noticed a quiver in his voice; he was profoundly moved by his nephew’s piece. At the end of the visit, I walked with him to the check-out desk. His eyes were fixed on the page. As he left the clinic, he glanced periodically at the essay. His smile was as bright as heaven.
I returned to my office and thought about Father Gallatin and Paul -- the priest and the blogger. Decades ago, the priest had taught his nephew about respect, kindness, and love. And today, on a splendid summer afternoon at the doctor’s office, through a medium called Open Salon, the priest discovered how well the lesson had been learned.
Nancy Rueb (Hughey)
What a delight it was to have Fr Gallatin as my religion teacher (I THINK Junior year). I believe he is the first one to ever seriously open my eyes to the Civil Rights Movement. I may have heard about it somewhere but his example of commitment to justice has stayed with me all my life. I also remember him having a delightful sense of humor. He told a story once about having to take the pastor's dog for a walk and he took her (Lady) to the Mall. As it turned out Lady ran away from him and he found himself chasing through the Mall (with his Roman collar on) yelling "Come back Lady!". Another time he brought kitchen towels into class and asked the girls to "cover their knees" cuz "I'm only human". I still remember one of the assignments (one that I blew). We were to listen to a current song and find a meaningful/Christian message in it. What a guy! What a priest! What a blessing to have had him as my teacher!
Nancy, since Paul is/was my cousin I've heard the story about Fr. Boekman's dog many times. You had it right partly but the dog was a Saint Bernard who they appropriately named "Saint" so when Saint got loose Paul was running through the shopping mall, in his roman collar, yelling "here Saint, here Saint".
Barbara and I have had the good fortune to have many dinners with Paul where he would stay until very late reminiscing and telling many humorous stories. Our family will miss him very much. He was our "resident priest" having married Barb & I as well as all of our kids and my brothers and sister. Of course he presided at all family funerals and his homilies were fantastic. Our biggest regret was not having the opportunity to travel with him more often with the exception of my daughters wedding in the Cassis France where he and Fr. Morgan "Marty" (his traveling companion) jointly preformed the sacrament of matrimony in a 300 year old church in Cassis. I still have a copy of the video of his homily at the wedding.
Some of my most vivid memories of Paul were his homilies at family funerals especially those of our grandmother and grandfather and my mother and father. You could feel the love he had for them and his descriptions of their lives were both insightful touching and humorous.
Fr. Wolf did a magnificent job at Paul's funeral in describing Paul's life and his passion for civil rights and his love of St Charles parish. I can't tell you how many times someone, after learning that Paul was my cousin, would tell my how they loved his homilies. Paul had a unique insight in to all maters of religion from the ten commandments to the stewardship of money. I would always learn something new or see things in a different perspective from his sermons and I think that was true for most of us who have been able to hear them.