Gallagher, Hugh (Gregory) 1932-2004

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GALLAGHER, Hugh (Gregory) 1932-2004


See index for CA sketch: Born October 18, 1932, in Palo Alto, CA; died of cancer July 13, 2004, in Washington, DC. Civil servant, activist, and author. Gallagher, who suffered from the effects of polio through most of his life, was active in fighting for the rights of not only the disabled but also for a wide range of people who had suffered discrimination in one form or another. It was while attending Haverford College in 1952 that he was first stricken with the disabling disease, and he spent months in an iron lung, followed by operations and other painful therapy for many years. Returning to school, he earned a B.A. from what is now Claremont College in 1956; he then studied at Trinity College, Oxford, earning a master's degree in 1959. It was while at Oxford, where he had to push his wheelchair over a block to reach a handicapped-accessible bathroom, that he was inspired to campaign for one of his central causes: making all federally funded buildings in America handicapped accessible. With his Oxford degree in political science, economics, and philosophy in hand, Gallagher entered the world of politics, first as a legislative assistant to Senator John A. Carroll of Colorado, and then as an assistant to Senator E. L. Bartlett of Alaska. He then worked for Lyndon Johnson's 1964 presidential campaign and, from 1967 to 1968 was the president's signing and veto message writer. While working in Washington, D.C., he crafted the wording for what would become the Architectural Barriers Act of 1968, which made it a law for federal buildings to make architectural changes so that the disabled could use them. It is considered a precursor for what would later be the 1990 Americans with Disabilities Act. His exposure to politics also led to his first book, Advise and Obstruct: The Role of the United States Senate in Foreign Policy Decisions (1969), for which he was nominated for the Pulitzer Prize. During the early 1970s, Gallagher was chief political officer for British Petroleum. Becoming a freelance consultant, he continued to campaign for the rights of others, including homosexuals, the dying, and of racial minorities, such as the native people of Alaska. In 1985, he published one of his best-known books, FDR's Splendid Deception, which was about his hero's struggle with polio. His final books were By Trust Betrayed: Patients, Physicians, and the License to Kill in the Third Reich (1995) and the memoir Black Bird Fly Away: Disabled in an Able Bodied World (1998). Gallagher was recognized for his life's work with the Henry B. Betts Award in 1995.



Washington Post, July 16, 2004, p. B4.

ONLINE, (September 14, 2004).