Peter Gallagher with his grandson, Stephen Marshall.
Peter Gallagher, a well-known Albuquerque lawyer before retiring to Mexico in 1980, died on April 23, 2012 in his adopted home of Manzanillo. He was 88. In Manzanillo, he offered his legal services, usually for free and was affectionately known as "Don Pedro".
Gallagher grew up in Las Cruces, where he learned Spanish at an early age. During military training in World War II he discovered a general knack for learning other languages as well. He was assigned to the Office of Strategic Services, the precursor to the CIA, where the U.S. Army immersed him in a Chinese language program. Gallagher, along with three other men, was then sent to an area in northern China occupied by the Japanese. The men used their new language skills to report on Japanese movement until the war ended.
Back in New Mexico, Gallagher earned his degree from the New Mexico College of Agriculture and Mechanic Arts, known today as New Mexico State University. Married with a growing family, he decided to see what the new law school was all about and enrolled in the University of New Mexico law school, earning his law degree in 1951.
He set up a practice with Dale Walker in the Bank of New Mexico building in downtown Albuquerque. Like many lawyers of the day, they were generalists, welcoming nearly every client who walked in the door. “If someone wanted a contract drawn up, we’d do that, or a divorce. We also did a lot of tort law,” said Gallagher.
After 28 years, as the practice of law became more specialized, Gallagher was ready to move on. He had raised his six children and wanted a new life. He headed south to Manzanillo, where he lived ever since.
When his grandson, Stephen Marshall (`11), was at his own education crossroads, Gallagher urged him to consider the UNM School of Law. Marshall was interested in physics, but was already realizing that life in a laboratory might not be a good fit for him.
“I told him that even if he wanted to continue with physics, law school would be a good background and that the law offers a lot of options,” said Gallagher. In 2011, he traveled from Mexico to see his grandson graduate first in his class.