James Thomas Gallagher III, 68

Wed, 06/04/2014 - 7:55pm

James Thomas Gallagher III, 68, of Old Lyme, an entrepreneur and motorsports enthusiast who built one of Central Connecticut’s most successful automotive dealerships, died on May 22, 2014. He was 68. Known to all as Tim, he was a silver-haired gentle spirit with a quick smile, Irish wit and an infectious laugh who graced the lives of his family, friends, employees and customers.

Through self-determination, humility and generosity, Tim crafted his life into an American success story; a legacy that continues to inspire all who knew him. Born on June 3, 1945 in New Haven, Conn., to James T. Gallagher, Jr. and Barbara (née Brosnan) Gallagher, Tim was a lifelong Connecticut resident; notably Glastonbury, where he lived for 26 years, and Old Lyme, where he had resided since 2000. He was a graduate of Holy Trinity School in Wallingford, Conn., of Peacham Academy in Vermont and Franklin Pierce College in New Hampshire. He also proudly served in the U.S. Army Reserves, and was honorably discharged after six years of service.

Together with his wife of 44 years, Roxannah (née Richardson) Gallagher, they raised two children and four grandchildren. From a very early age, Tim Gallagher’s life was shaped by a determination to be his own boss, and by his enduring passion for automobiles. To achieve his dream, after gaining a coveted opportunity to attend the GM Dealer Candidate Academy, he gave up a promising career with Connecticut Spring & Stamping in Farmington to join Heller Chevrolet in Guilford, Conn., as a sales representative. Combining that car sales experience with borrowed funds, Tim purchased a partnership in Charter Oak Buick in Manchester, which he subsequently sold in order to purchase New Britain Buick, which consisted of a one-car showroom on Arch Street. From that modest location, within three years Tim acquired a large piece of property, constructed a new facility and re-located his dealership to its current location on Columbus Boulevard in New Britain, now operating as Gallagher Buick GMC.

A reflection of Tim’s lifelong dedication to excellence, Gallagher Buick was the first Buick dealer in the nation to be awarded the franchise’s highest honor ever of “Best in Class,” an award it would win for many years during the brand’s most successful years. The dealership was also recognized as a “Select 60” dealership numerous years and has been a “Mark of Excellence” dealer for the brands it has represented continuously to this day. Most importantly to Tim over the past 30 years, customers have consistently cited his dealership for its professionalism, integrity and quality of service, and many of his staff members have remained with him for decades.

Despite his success in business, Tim’s core values and willingness to roll up his sleeves never changed. He took personal pride in maintaining his business, his own lawn and property, his boats, and his vintage collector cars. Tim’s fascination with motor-powered vehicles extended to his personal life. Over the years, he was a proud owner of various boats and motor coaches, as well as vintage trucks and cars. He had a life-long interest in Corvettes, and vintage sports car racing. Tim passionately raced his #57 1963 Corvette throughout the country but loved his home tracks at Lime Rock Park in Lakeville, Conn., and Watkins Glen, New York. He was a member of Historic Sportscar Racing, Ltd., the Sportscar Vintage Racing Association, Hartford Yacht Club, Pattaconk Yacht Club, Saybrook Point Yacht Club, Old Lyme Country Club and The Players Club in Naples, Florida.

He was also a volunteer or supporter of several civic and charitable organizations, including Connecticut Special Olympics, the New Britain Lions Club, the Connecticut Sports Foundation Against Cancer, The Klingberg Family Center, The Florence Griswold Museum, Champlain College, and Kingswood-Oxford School. Although he was very active in business and his community, Tim remained a soft-spoken, private individual who valued most highly the time he spent with his wife Roxie, his family and circle of close friends. He preferred a quiet evening at home over most social events, and was always available to lend a helping hand or sympathetic ear to those who sought his wise counsel.

In addition to his wife, Tim leaves behind his son Michael and his wife, Kerry Gallagher of Old Saybrook, and their three children, Rian, Henry and James Eli; and his daughter, Susannah (Missy) and her husband Seth Lemoine of Moosup and Block Island, R.I. and their son Wyatt. He is also survived by a sister, Jacqueline Eastman of Stevensville, Maryland, and Naples, Florida, and brothers David Gallagher of Dunwoody, Georgia, and Vero Beach, Florida, and John Gallagher of Essex, Conn. The Gallagher family wishes to express special thanks to Memorial Sloan Kettering Hospital and Middlesex Hospice.

Those wishing to express their sympathy, in lieu of flowers or gifts, are encouraged to support the Connecticut Sports Foundation Against Cancer or Middlesex Hospice. Visitation was held Tuesday May 27 at the Robinson Wright & Weymer Funeral Home, 34 Main Street in Centerbrook, Conn. A Memorial Service was held on Wednesday May 28 at The First Congregational Church of Old Lyme, 2 Ferry Rd., Old Lyme, Conn. Interment in the Duck River Cemetery in Old Lyme will be privately held by his family. To share a memory of Tim or send a condolence to his family please visit www.rwwfh.com