Aug. 13, 1939- Dec. 19, 2019
Leon Galloway loved to make people laugh. From his boyhood, he was a prankster who never missed an opportunity to wear a costume, set up a good-hearted practical joke or gently tease family, friends and strangers alike. His grandchildren like to recall an especially outrageous …read more
Aug. 13, 1939- Dec. 19, 2019
Leon Galloway loved to make people laugh. From his boyhood, he was a prankster who never missed an opportunity to wear a costume, set up a good-hearted practical joke or gently tease family, friends and strangers alike. His grandchildren like to recall an especially outrageous getup he assembled a few years back, a hip-hop look all in black, complete with jangling long chains, Tripp pants with silver studs and zippers and a shirt with (faux) tattoo sleeves. Leon was preceded in death by his parents, Leon M. and McKinnon A. Galloway of Spartanburg, and his son, Mark A. Galloway of Charlotte.
As a Morse Code technician for the U.S. Air Force in the early 1960s, Leon liked to push military rules to their limit, but never beyond. During the tense days of the Cuban Missile Crisis, Leon served long hours translating coded communications, with little time off to do more than catch 40 winks and a bite to eat. When an officer chided him for wearing a rumpled uniform and ordered him to launder it before his next shift, Leon showed up squeaky clean and dripping wet. “I washed it,” he told the officer.
The Spartanburg company Leon founded, SmileMakers, brightened visits to doctors’ and dentists’ offices for millions of children with the stickers, pencils, toys and other gift items the company distributed.
A resident of Hendersonville since 1999, Leon is survived by his wife of 28 years, Doris M. Galloway; his son Geoff L. Galloway (Sherry aka “Sally”) of Spartanburg, S.C.; daughter-in-law Tracy (aka “Stacy”) Galloway of Mooresville, N.C.; sisters Flora M. Borkholder (Jerry) of Hamlin, New York and Rena E. Huffman (Huston) of Myrtle Beach; and stepdaughter Virginia Perry Daffron (Eric) of Asheville. Leon loved his five grandchildren, Mitchell, McKinnon, Savanna, Sydney and Finn, as well as his nieces and nephews, with all of his heart. And the list wouldn’t be complete without a mention of Arly, Leon and Doris’ precious dog, who will miss Leon terribly.
Leon was born in Sumter, S.C. and grew up in Spartanburg, S.C. A 1957 graduate of Spartanburg High, Leon’s keen mathematical mind earned him a full scholarship to Duke University, which he attended for one year before enlisting in the Air Force. He was stationed at bases in Arizona, Florida and South Carolina in addition to deployments in North Africa and Crete.
Following his military service, Leon worked as a mechanical calculator repair technician for Monroe Calculator in Columbia, S.C., before returning home to Spartanburg to work with his father in Galloway Promotions, which is still in operation as a family-owned business.
In 1972, Leon founded SmileMakers to focus on the medical and dental giveaway market. His sons Mark and Geoff eventually came to work with him until his retirement in 1998.
Woodturning became Leon’s passion in his retirement, and he produced hundreds of beautiful bowls and other artistic and functional objects. He also loved sharing his knowledge of woodturning with others, teaching over a dozen students the art over many years. He always offered his time and expertise freely, with no return expected other than the joy of students’ company and their shared enthusiasm for the art.
In addition to creating gifts, Leon contributed numerous pieces to local benefit auctions. Photos of his work can be seen at gallowaywoodturning.com.
A celebration of Leon’s life will be held in spring or summer 2020, with the date to be announced at a later time. Donations in his honor can be made to the Children’s Tumor Foundation (ctf.org); The Salvation Army (salvationarmycarolinas.org); the Western Carolina Rescue Mission (westerncarolinarescue.org) or a charity of your choice.