Jim Gallo was the quintessential athlete in the early years of the Rockland County Public School Athletic League (RCPSAL). A 1938 graduate of Haverstraw High School, Gallo earned a total of 14 varsity letters in his celebrated schoolboy career.
A three-time All-County football selection, Jimmy was a two-way performer, playing end, quarterback and linebacker over his four varsity seasons. He scored the first touchdown in the history of Markham Field in H a v e r s t r a w, and played a notable role in bringing the 1936 RCPSAL football championship to H a v e r s t r a w. Contemporaries recall the 6-foot-3, 200-pound Gallo as an athlete of outstanding physical condition. Fleet-footed, he was a quality runner, a crisp blocker and arguably the most renowned tackler in the county.
He earned All-County basketball honors three times. Gallo was a tenacious defender and a strong rebounder. He served as captain and led his team in scoring in his senior season. Jim was a key contributor to the Haverstraw High School’s dominance of RCPSAL basketball over an eight-year span that saw the Red Raiders win seven league titles. Gallo also was a member of the storied Letchworth Village Big ‘5’ basketball team.
As a four-time All-RCPSAL baseball player, Jim played a different position in each of his four years. He was seen as a teamÕs strength in any position he played. He topped the Haverstraw nine in 1938 with a .409 batting average. Jimmy also participated in track & field with marks in the high jump, discus and shot put that would be considered competitive when compared to the schoolboy standards of today. Gallo received an athletic scholarship to Colgate University, where he played offensive and defensive end in football, and was a forward on the basketball team. Jim graduated from Colgate in 1942 with a B.S. in education. Like most young men and women of his era he joined the military at a time of war. A Marine, Gallo served in the Pacific Theater as a second lieutenant during the island sieges of Guadalcanal, Iwo Jima, Guam, and Bougainville. The Haverstraw native also served in the combat areas of Korea and Vietnam. Jim’s 31-year career in the United States Marine Corps ended with his retirement as a full colonel in 1973. He was the recipient of four Campaign Ribbons, Silver Star, Purple Heart, Legion of Merit, White Rose of Finland, Navy Cross, and the Vietnam Medal. He was additionally awarded Presidential and Navy Unit Citations.
Following his discharge, Jim continued serving his country with honor. He was appointed to the nation’s diplomatic staff as Naval Attache to Finland, and later to the diplomatic staff to Lebanon.
Gallo has taught military science at East Carolina University and the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign. From his early days as a student and athlete at Saint Peter’s Elementary School in Haverstraw, Gallo was highly respected. He possessed a unique ability to get his team to play at a high level. Not the most boisterous of leaders, he would rather fire up his teammates by setting an example. On the court or field he would sink an outside shot against the opponent’s best defender, or force the right-handed guard to use his left hand. Jim taught his teammates to stick to the team’s goals, even in tough times.
He will be remembered as a player who enjoyed the camaraderie and competition that enriches the experience of playing scholastic sports. He is a charter member of the North Rockland Sports Hall of Fame.
It can be said that James Gallo is the cornerstone of North Rockland High School’s Tradition of Excellence as well as one of the premier athletes enshrined in the Rockland County Sports Hall of Fame.
Jim now resides in Scottsdale, Ariz., with his wife, Jean. He has three daughters: Cristine lives in San Francisco, Gail lives in Nanuet, and Wendy is from Lake Tahoe.