Memories — the good, the bad, the Gallagher

May 04, 2022

On the eve of Gallagher's demise, alumni offered accounts of such formative events as the fire of 1999, the early-bird dumpster wakeup call and that time the pillow-wielding, couch-forted men of G5 seceded from the building.

Featured Testimonial About Creighton University

Images of Gallagher Hall and residents

It turns out there had been reports of stolen pillows in the months leading up to the G5 secession, but they seemed so random in nature that no one actually thought anything of it. But this had, in fact, been planned for months.

Read more
•  Gallagher Hall — a tell-all history
•  Meet the Poopas of Gallagher Hall
•  A Gallagher Hall love story

* * *

By Micah Mertes

A while back, we wrote what we thought was the definitive story of Gallagher Hall. Yet we’ve since learned we were missing a few things …

For one, we left out the story of Poopa Poopa Pi, a Creighton un-sorority formed in Gallagher and still going strange more than 50 years since the day a dozen freshman women took the Poopa oath. You can read all about them here.

The original Gallagher story also missed much of the texture and even a few of the major moments that have made Gallagher Gallagher. Fortunately, a few dozen alumni reached out to us to share memories of the good, the bad and the Gallagher, honoring their old hall in its final days.

What follows are a few (mostly) glowing tributes to Gallagher, along with first-hand accounts of such formative events as the fire of 1999, the early-bird dumpster wakeup call and that time the pillow-wielding, couch-forted men of G5 seceded from the building.

Long live Gallagher.

Note: No possums were harmed in the writing of this article.

* * *

Creighton President Carl M. Reinert shovels dirt at the Gallagher Hall groundbreaking in 1960.
Then-Creighton President Carl M. Reinert, SJ, shovels dirt at the Gallagher Hall groundbreaking in 1960.


Tributes, memories

Patrick Thompson, BSBA'02

Lived on floor G4 from 1998-'99.

Image of Gallagher Hall cornerstone illustration

“I’m sad to see Gallagher go.”

A few of his memories:

  • Making lifelong friends.
  • Floor-wide pizza parties. Ordering 15 "Huger Than Huge" pizzas from Home Team Pizza.
  • Floor-wide GoldenEye tournaments on N64.
  • Doing homework in the computer lab on the first floor while his laundry was going next door.
  • A student putting a couch down the elevator shaft and getting expelled shortly after.
  • Patrick’s first week of sophomore year, when he heard fire trucks from Swanson and later learned his Gallagher room from freshman year was on fire.

* * *

Mathew M. Kappadakunnel, BSBA'03

Lived on G2 from 1999-2000.

“My two main memories are when some residents from our floor put the common room couch down the elevator. The other memory is when there was a fire on the fourth floor due to an unattended candle.”

* * *

Umang Talati, BA'00, MBA'05, JD'05

“G4 forever! So many great memories of campus. It’s been hard to let go, even after so many years. Gallagher was a place where special friends were made, with late-night study sessions in the lobby. It was also the place where the Indian Cultural Society was founded.

“There was also the G4 squad and the fire and the buddies for life.”


* * *

The story of the fire, as recounted by Joe Bezousek, BSBA’01, senior associate director of Admissions:

On a Friday night in the fall of 1999, a major fire broke out in a fourth-floor room of Gallagher. Many of the freshman residents took action to get the building evacuated. The room was gutted, and residents had to move off the fourth floor for several weeks due to the damage.

“I was one of the RAs on the floor, and I will never forget that year,” Joe says. “As the fourth-floor residents were scattered around campus, it created some great bonds between us. We even printed “Gallagher Hall Fire Department” shirts for the building that year.”

Creightonian issue Sept. 24, 1999

Anne Harvey, BA'87

RA on G2 from 1985-’86.

Things Anne remembers about “the wonder that is Gallagher”:

  • “Our rooms were lined up over the garbage dumpster behind the cafeteria, and the windows were wide open because Gallagher wasn’t air-conditioned. And it was a very hot August. They would come to unload the dumpster very early every morning, and it woke us up every day. So we'd yell, ‘Good morning!’ because there was no way to sleep through the noise.”
  • Sunday evening Mass in Becker Dining Hall, on the lower level between Gallagher and Kiewit. “Those were always nice services.”
  • “It was a great place to live. I made lots of lifelong friends.”

* * *

Chris Clark, BA'98

From Facebook: "Gallagher can’t really be destroyed. Having lived there for three years, met my wife there and made so many friends there, I can say, Gallagher is a people, not a place."

* * * 

Johanna Gniffke, BA'99, BSN'05, MS'19

Former resident and later a resident advisor.

"When I was there, Gallagher was already outdated, just kind of a little hole in the wall, but we all loved it. People who didn't live in Gallagher maybe didn't get it, but we had a lot of fun."

One of Johanna’s most vivid memories of the hall is from her freshman year, when she lived in the room right next to the floor's one bathroom. For her first two semesters at Creighton, she and her roommate heard every flush. They eventually got so used to it they didn't even notice anymore. It was just funny to them.

Bathroom proximity aside, Johanna said just about every aspect of her Gallagher experience was special.

"I met so many great people from all over the country, from all over the world. It really was a community. Just this teeny-tiny building at the edge of campus."

Image of Gallagher Hall

Paul Dona, DDS'77

In 1973, 10 students spent their first year of dental school living in Gallagher.

“We immediately became friends,” says Paul. “The dorm was coed so there were parties in the lounge, touch football on the lawn and Friday afternoon beer TGIF get-togethers in the cafeteria. (The drinking age was 19.)”

Since dental school, the group of guys have all gone their separate ways and moved all over the country, but they’ve maintained their friendships, calling themselves “the Dorm Boys.”

Paul was in Omaha recently to visit family. He planned to get one more look at Gallagher before it's gone.

* * *

Jude Knipper, BSBA'98

G2 resident for two years.


  • Meeting his closest friends.
  • Many, many pranks.
  • Pranking their RA by moving his room into the G2 commons area.
  • Penny-locking each other into their rooms. (Editor’s note: This is a fire/safety hazard. Please don’t do this.)
  • Half the floor taking a break each afternoon to watch The Simpsons.
  • Video game competitions. Floor vs. floor unofficial football competitions and championship.

* * *

Image of Gallagher Hall being built in 1960-'61.
Gallagher Hall being built in 1960-'61.

Mike Denney, BSBA'16

“I'll stick to the Gallagher memories I can share …”

“I met four of my groomsmen on G5, and made even more lasting friends than that. We wanted to continue our Gallagher experience as best as we could, so sophomore year a group of us got a block of rooms in Kenefick Hall.

“I think the smaller size and how tucked away in the corner of campus Gallagher was really gave it its charm. It was somehow the butt of all jokes about dorms, and also the one everyone wished they were in.”

* * *

Suzanne Kotula, BSN’85

“It was the wild west sometimes (the fire alarms got pulled all the time), but it was a community. It was our home.

“Gallagher will be missed.”

* * *

Tara Minard Grimaldi, BS'00, MD

Lived in Gallagher her freshman and sophomore years.

“Gallagher is the best! So many fantastic memories.”

So many of Tara’s memories of Gallagher hijinks involved her roommate, Katie Nester Meek, BA’00, “one of the kindest and funniest people I’ve ever met.”

Tara and Katie’s window looked into the dining hall, so they’d continually make funny or inspirational signs for people to read while eating. They also figured out how to call the campus security phone. When they saw friends walking by the phone from their window, they’d call and surprise them.

“And during Homecoming week,” Tara says, “they had a contest for the best-decorated dorm. We colored the front of Gallagher with sidewalk chalk.”

It looked great but didn’t wash off as expected.

“Oops. I think Gallagher was sort of pastel for the rest of the year.”

Tara, Katie and a chalked Gallagher Hall.

Tara says she treasures the friendships she formed in the hall.

“What makes Gallagher so special is the people. It was just such a welcoming community. I knew all the girls on my floor really well and had friends on the other floors, too. I remember walking into the lobby from class, and people would be watching a movie, and they would just invite you to join them. Having such close friends really helped me navigate being at a new place so far from home.

“My mom passed away unexpectedly my freshman year, and everyone really rallied around me. I was so lucky to have that kind of welcoming and supportive home away from home.”

And not to bury the lede, but Gallagher’s biggest impact on her life was introducing her to her husband during Welcome Week. Greg Grimaldi, BS’00, DDS, lived on G2, she on G3. Their first date was the Gallagher semi-formal. The next year, she was dorm president, and Greg was VP.

More than 20 years later, they’re a pediatrician and a dentist with two children. They’re forever grateful for their first family home.

* * *

Ben Bashline, BA'08

Lived in Gallagher 2004-'05.

Gallagher Hall exterior.

“Gallagher will always hold a place in my heart. It was a crazy, tight-knit and quirky place to live, but I wouldn’t have wanted anything else.”

Ben recounts the craziest thing he ever witnessed in Gallagher, the time the fifth-floor residents seceded from the dorm:

“As a second-floor guy (we were far and away the tame ones in the building), we were baffled one day when all our couches were gone from the lounge. We heard some chatter in the hall, and everyone seemed to think the fifth floor had something to do with it. We decided to go in a pack (we didn’t want to go alone) to check out the mystery.

“When we got to the fifth floor, all the lights were turned off or covered, and there was a huge maze of couches turned on their sides. We barely got a look before we heard war cries and got beaten back into the stairwell by fifth-floor residents with pillows.

“We tried several times that night to make it back up, but they were waiting for us every time, seemingly with an endless supply of pillows. Eventually most fell asleep, and we were able to break through the fortress. What we saw was beyond what we could have hoped for.

“On the wall of the lounge, the fifth floor had written its own constitution and had formally seceded from Gallagher Hall. All had signed the wall.

“The next day, we got to see everything in the light. All the RAs found out, and there was swift action. Maintenance crew were called in to patch the walls and paint over the secessionist document.

“It turns out there had been reports of stolen pillows in the months leading up to the secession, but they seemed so random in nature that no one actually thought anything of it. But this had, in fact, been planned for months. They were snatching pillows to store up for the impending event.”


* * *

The possum prank of 2002

From the Creightonian:

Creightonian image showing Gallagher possum prank

* * *

Ann Rhomberg, BS’83

Graduate assistant advisor for Gallagher throughout the mid-'80s.

Gallagher’s nickname during Ann’s time was "The Zoo," but resident advisors wanted it to now be known as "The Country Club." The dorm underwent extensive changes — new paint, new carpet, new air conditioning, the addition of lounges on every floor. It also integrated freshmen with upperclassmen, creating an entirely different vibe — "a home for all who live here."

The head resident advisor at the time said, "The general attitude is one of relaxation and solitude, with little or no disciplinary action necessary. There is an air of calmness and good feeling as you walk through Gallagher.”

Creighton's residence halls all started adding more programming and activities around this time, and Gallagher now held movie nights, volleyball, seminars on nutrition and popular social gatherings, including a Bruce Springsteen Party.

More than 30 years later, Ann still recalls the hall's homey vibe.

"Gallagher's smaller size contributed to its charm. It was just a gem on the edge of campus that no one knew much about. But for those who lived there, you felt such a sense of community."

* * *

Angela Wong, BS'83, MD'87

Shared from Facebook: Angela, who lived on G5 her freshman year, shared a group photo of all the residents on her floor wearing G5 T-shirts.

Angela Wong's photo of G5 residents.

Stephanie Lassek Potter, BSN'96

Lived in Gallagher from 1992-'94.

“It was the best two years of my life. Loved living there. Sad to see it go.”

What she loved about Gallagher:

“It was big enough to house several students from varying backgrounds, yet small enough it truly was a family. With two floors being male and two floors being female, it was very homey.”

“My sophomore-year roommate and I quickly discovered we were a perfect match. Not only were we great roommates; we became the best of friends, so much so that we lived together off campus for two years in an apartment. We’re still close 30 years later.”

“Many students from Kiewit could usually be found either hanging out in Gallagher or in our multiple study rooms.”

“Because of the dorm's small-town feel, we did many activities just for Gallagher residents, such as dances and playing a live version of the game Clue. This was a highlight for me. I played Ms. White in the game.”

“Gallagher is truly an iconic piece of Creighton's history and will be sorely missed!”

Stephanie Lassek with her friends at Gallagher.
Stephanie Lassek Potter (second from left) with her friends at Gallagher in 1994.

Jim Mello, MBA’99

Gallagher residence hall director from 1997-'98.

After taking the job in the fall of 1997, Jim, his wife, Denise, and their four-month-old son moved into Gallagher Hall.

“The students who lived there were special because they created a community and an identity.”

Some memories of Gallagher:

“The front desk was also the broadcast home of JayTV, or at least the movies that used to get played on the old cable system. The front desk receptionist was responsible to put in the VHS tape for broadcast according to a schedule.”

“In the fall of 1997, Nebraska played Missouri in football. Huskers fans will remember it as the game when Matt Davison came out of nowhere and caught a game-tying touchdown pass off a deflection. I was in the RD apartment watching the game, and when he made that catch, you could literally feel the entire building shake and exclaim a cheer.”

“The residents of Gallagher relished the identity of being at the bottom of the hill, of being a special place defined by its people and community rather than amenities or location.”

“Gallagher was also the summer house of the Christian Spirituality Program (CSP) and folks from all over the world would come and live there in the summer and take CSP courses on campus.”

“One of the greatest gifts in Gallagher Hall was the presence of our chaplain, Fr. Tom Bannantine, SJ. So kind and understanding with students (and patient with their noise, as he lived right by the front door and off the main lobby).

“Fr. Tom was a lifelong Notre Dame football fan. When I left Creighton for a job at Notre Dame, I had the chance to make a lifelong dream of Fr. Tom's come true. He got to attend a football game at Notre Dame stadium, and we saw them beat Air Force in overtime.”

* * *

Megan Hottman, BA'01, JD'04

Lived in Gallagher her freshman year.

“It was true college living, that’s for sure. It was the oldest and least-nice dorm as far as we incoming freshman were concerned. The rooms were old and in need of updating, but they had character.

“I liked that it was a smaller hall. I got to know many of the students in it that first year. I did the random roommate match and got to share my room with a girl from Hawaii.”

* * *

A scene from Gallagher's blessing in 1961.
A scene from Gallagher's blessing in 1961.

Pam Holewinski, BA’65

Lived on G3 her freshman year, the first year Gallagher opened.

Here’s the story of what was quite possibly Gallagher Hall’s first and most benign shenanigan:

Pam’s freshman year, she and her roommate were concerned that their window didn’t have a curtain like the other rooms on their floor. They had noticed a few of the floors above them didn’t have residents yet, so they went to grab a curtain from one of the empty rooms.

Shortly after, they were called into the Dean of Women’s office. She had learned of their curtain-swiping activities and said they had “upset the décor of the dorm.” The dean grounded them from campus activities.

“We were unable to attend some of the dances during freshman week because of this,” says Pam. “At that point, we were not quite sure about college.”

* * *  

Mary Persyn, BA'67

Lived in Gallagher from 1963-'65. 

A few Gallagher memories: 

• "There was one phone on our floor, with women who lived close to the phone becoming de facto answering machines for all the floor's residents. Guess who knew all the news first?"

• "Most stuck in my memory is the 8 p.m. curfew for women, with lights out at midnight. The RA would come around at midnight to check that our lights were out. There were many illegal flashlights used for studying after midnight."
• "Two other rules which point out the change in attitudes that took place from the first part of the '60s to the later years were the rule against women wearing slacks/pants on campus. (You could only wear pants if you were immediately leaving campus.). We got around that rule by wearing shorts under long coats. And there was also the Public Display of Affection rule, which applied both to the lobby of Gallagher and the area outside the dorm."
• A Deglman memory: "For part junior year, my roommate, Mary Percival Ryan, and I lived on the northwest corner of Deglman Hall, which had been converted from a men's to a women's dorm over the summer. They had converted each of the floors' bathrooms for female use by covering up the urinals with mirrors." 
A Kiewit memory: "When Kiewit Hall was finished and we were able to move in, it was luxurious."

Student in front of Gallagher Hall in 1966

Mike McKay, JD'76

Head Gallagher RA from 1974-'76.

“Floors two and three housed men, mostly professional school students, while women occupied the fourth floor. We studied hard in those years, so I did my best to maintain an environment to support that. No noise. Most other rules were enforced in a laissez-faire manner, a practice that generated several invitations to the Dean of Students office, where Mike Sheridan, SJ, sternly admonished me to enforce all school rules more enthusiastically. 

“While we studied hard at Gallagher, we had a wonderful time during our off hours. We took a very limited social events budget and hosted some great parties on Friday and Saturday nights in one of the Becker Hall event rooms. The women living in Kiewit Hall were also invited, so these events were well-attended. It was also great to see everyone at lunch and dinner in the Becker Hall dining room, where there was great camaraderie. 

“Today, nearly 50 years later, I frequently think of so many of the friends I made there and hope their lives have been as happy as mine.” 

* * *

Peggy McGreevy, BS’71

Lived on G2 from 1967-'68.

“I met my best friends of my life there. We’re still very good friends 55 years later!

“I loved living in Gallagher, and I would like to share with students of 2022 that there was just one phone out in the hall that we all shared! It was another time completely!”

* * *

Emmet Kenney Jr., BS’82, MD’86

Lived in Gallagher his freshman year.

“Creighton was a big part of my life even before I was a college student, I will always have a soft spot in my heart for it.”

Emmet first moved into Gallagher Hall when he was a seventh grader.

It was for summer basketball camp. He and his fellow campers got to stay overnight in the dorm. Several years later he lived in Gallagher as an actual Creighton student.

Emmet had grown up with Creighton. His dad was chair of psychiatry. His uncle was chair of radiology. His grandfather founded the obstetrics department. Every Thanksgiving, his family would attend campus Mass and the subsequent alumni gathering.

When he was finally a student himself, he went about forging the same kind of lifelong friendships that define so many Creighton experiences. He got to know Gallagher a lot better, too.

One of the things he most associates with Gallagher: a car crash.

A few weeks into his freshman year, Emmet is shaving in the communal bathroom, windows open due to lack of air conditioning. He hears a loud boom outside and looks out the window, toward the interstate wrapping around Gallagher …

“And I see a car jettisoning off the upper ramp, crashing into the lower ramp and going off the side of the embankment. When you ask for Gallagher memories, that’s one of the first visuals that comes to mind.”

Campus as the interstate was being built.
Campus as the interstate was being built.

Rachel Millard, BSBA’08

Gallagher assistant residence hall director her senior year.

“Something that brought Gallagher residents together was this feeling that, like, you drew the short straw in a way, in terms of amenities. Gallagher wasn’t glamorous. But it bred this really awesome community.

“I watched the residents flourish. I watched them build these lifelong friendships. I watched them get married. I was always impressed with the caliber of individuals there. They felt so strongly about the community that they built.”

A graphic of Gallagher Hall

Read more
•  Gallagher Hall — a tell-all history
•  Meet the Poopas of Gallagher Hall
•  A Gallagher Hall love story