BEEVILLE – It is not every day that a business celebrates 100 years of service to a community.
So when Galloway & Sons Funeral Home reached that landmark recently, the Galloway family celebrated with a 21-gun salute and a state senator as guest speaker.
John Galloway, III presided over the event the evening of Tuesday, Nov. 19, in the parking lot on the south side of the funeral home at 409 N. Tyler St.
Members of the Bee County Veterans Honor Guard performed the 21-gun salute the same way they have for numerous military funerals over the years as other members of the team raised the U.S. flag.
Mayor Francisco “Frank” Dominguez spoke briefly and said he now lives in the house where the Galloway Mortuary was located in 1932.
State Sen. Judith Zaffirini spoke of the contributions that the Galloway family and business had made to the community over the past century.
The business was called Galloway Mortuary when it first opened on April 27, 1919, in Skidmore by John Galloway, Jr.
However, it was John Galloway, Sr. who started the family legacy after arriving in Skidmore from his original home in Broxburne, Scotland, in 1884.
John Senior went to work on a farm and ranch owned by Frank Skidmore at the time. Then, in 1900, he opened the Little Gem Confectionery and Ice Cream Parlor, selling “stationery, candies, cigars, oysters, toilet articles, fruits, tobacco and fish.”
His son, John Junior, organized the Farmers Mercantile Co. in Skidmore in 1912, and the mortuary was added in 1919.
By then the business was providing everything anyone needed “from cradle to grave.”
That included Ford automobiles, feed, seed, hardware, dry goods, clothing and a complete funeral service.
The business opened a branch in Mathis, but in 1932, the family closed the businesses in Skidmore and Mathis and moved the operation to Beeville.
In 1935, John Junior’s son, Charles Galloway, became a licensed embalmer and funeral director.
Charles, John III’s father, was a graduate of A.C. Jones High School and attended the University of Texas for two years before moving on to the Dallas School of Embalming.
Charles took over the business in 1947 when John Junior died and, in 1949, had a new building erected where the business now stands at the corner of Tyler and Gramman streets.
Later, Charles shared ownership of the business with his sons, John III and Tommy.
John III is still the owner, and the business remains in the Galloway family.
John III started off running what, at the time, was Beeville’s ambulance service. At the time most funerals homes also provided ambulance services for their communities because they were the only businesses which had vehicles large enough to hold a cot.
John III decided in the late 1950s to attend Texas A&M University to become a veterinarian. But by 1960 he realized he needed to return home to the family business.
He earned his mortuary license and worked along his father.
Later, John III married Elizabeth, and they had three children.
Charles Galloway retired in 1974, and John III took over as the owner of the company.
By then John III had become active in the community. He ran for a seat on the City Council in 1970 and was elected mayor of Beeville in 1972.
That same year he purchased the Three Rivers Funeral Home in 1972 and had a funeral chapel built in George West in 1974. A year later he bought Beeville Memorial Park.
The funeral business has changed considerably since the Galloway family started the company. But the family has kept up with those changes.
Today the Galloway family remains active in church and community events, including holding an annual dinner for all persons who work as first responders in emergency situations.
Recently Bee County officials named a building downtown after Galloway, recognizing his involvement in economic development.
The building will be the headquarters for the Bee Area Partnership, a coordinated economic development effort now being organized.
Gary Kent is a reporter at the Bee-Picayune and can be reached at 343-5220, or at reporter@mySouTex.com.