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Jamie Galle had her baby, Alex, in her arms in 1998 when she received a phone call from her husband, Dave.
He was flying out of Columbus Municipal Airport with three other Arvin employees, when their plane crashed into a tomato field minutes after takeoff.
But her husband was OK.
“He’d always been aware of how precious life is,” Jamie Galle said. “But after the plane crash, there was just a keen awareness. ... He said he wanted to give more to charity.”
Dave Galle, a local education advocate and middle school basketball coach, died Tuesday at Indiana University Medical Center from an autoimmune blood disorder. He was 47 and had been hospitalized for 11 days.
“Someone sent me a text yesterday that said Dave left us footprints on all of our hearts,” Jamie Galle said. “And that’s just so true.”
A native of Oldenburg and a 1987 graduate from DePauw University, Galle served as executive director of the Community Education Coalition, with which he strove to establish early-childhood education programs.
An All-American basketball player at DePauw, Galle enjoyed watching his three children — Luke, 18, Megan, 16, and Alex, 14 — compete in athletics.
“If my kids grow up to be exactly like their dad, I couldn’t ask for more,” Jamie Galle said.
In the 1980s, he was a standout athlete at Batesville High School. Randy Proffitt, executive director of marketing and communications at Ivy Tech Community College in Columbus, remembers seeing Galle for the first time when he dunked, high over what seemed like an entire Connersville team. At the time, Proffitt was a player on the South Decatur squad waiting to play a regional basketball game.
“We’re little guys from South Decatur,” Proffitt said. “We’d never seen a guy dunk like that.”
They later became friends, coaching St. Bartholomew Catholic School basketball teams.
“I just thought the world of him,” Proffitt said. “I think people can look at Dave as someone to emulate. He was unselfish of himself. He gave of himself. He was always ready to help whenever and wherever he could.
“The community lost a great asset.”
Most recently, when Galle wasn’t working for the Community Education Coalition, teaching or coaching, he volunteered at St. Bartholomew Catholic School, helping interview teachers to help find the best fit for the school.
“Anytime we asked him (for help), he would say yes,” St. Bartholomew Principal Kathy Schubel said. “Sometimes (interviewing teachers) was a tedious process, but he was always a contributing member of the group. He always offered great insight.”
Schubel said Galle encouraged thinking outside the box when hiring teachers. He sought educators who were as well-rounded as they were well-qualified.
In other words, he wanted someone like himself.
“Our hearts go out to the Galle family,” IUPUC vice chancellor and dean Marwan Wafa said in a statement released via email. “It is a loss not only for IUPUC, but for the entire community. Dave was our friend and a tireless advocate for advancing higher education in our region.
“He truly cared about helping others succeed.”
Others have responded with similar sentiments.
“We’ve received a flood of calls from different organizations extending their sympathy,” said John Burnett, chief executive officer of Community Education Coalition. “He touched thousands and thousands of lives, many of whom he knew, some he didn’t.”
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