Richard Gallant was extremely family oriented.
“He didn’t want nobody to cry, he wanted everyone to celebrate and be happy.”
Those were the words of Breanna Hall on Wednesday as she reflected on the wishes of her grandfather, Richard Gallant, a Second World War veteran who died the previous day at the age of 94.
Gallant lived in Hall’s home in Stephenville, and she said he always made sure the people around him had a smile on their faces.
“He always put everyone else before himself,” she said.
Hall said family members used to call him “King Tut” because of the way he knew how to light up a room and be the centre of attention.
“Pop was very social and loved having people around at all times,” she said.
He also loved the outdoors, and up to this year would go with her dad, Peter Hall, and some of his own sons cutting wood and even hunting.
Hall said he loved his double rum and coke and that he’s probably looking down on them having one now.
Richard Brinston, a Second World War veteran, said Gallant’s death was a big loss for him because he always loved him and he was like family.
Brinston used to go visit Gallant a lot and, he said, Gallant would always like to see him coming to visit. He said Gallant would drop by and visit him at times, too.
“He was a great man who liked to give and help people. He treated me like a king,” he said.
While Brinston and Gallant didn’t serve in the war together, the two believed they likely passed each other on ships crossing the Atlantic Ocean as Gallant was coming home in 1943 and Brinston was heading over to Europe.
“We had a lot of good times together in the Legion. If there was any fun in it, we had it,” he said.
Retired Col. Maurice Hynes, who knew Gallant for more than 20 years from different involvements, praised him for his great dedication to the Royal Canadian Legion and promoting veterans in school programs.
He said Gallant visited St. Thomas Aquinas School, where Hynes worked, in the early 1990s for a Remembrance Day assembly and returned every year to talk to young people.
Hynes said Gallant was president of the Royal Canadian Legion, Branch 35 for at least two, possibly three, terms, and served in different capacities on the executive over the years.
While Gallant was a bit humble about his experience overseas, he often talked of his work on the Ernest Harmon Air Force Base and working in the woods, Hynes said.
“He was well liked and respected by the other veterans, which shows his character,” Hynes said.
“He has a supportive family that ensured he got out to Legion events.”
Gallant’s funeral will take place Friday at 2 p.m. from Maria Regina Parish in Port au Port.