William Erskine Gallant Jr. died at his home in Charleston, S.C. on Nov. 12. at the age of 89.
He was born Dec. 12, 1925 at Anderson County Hospital in Anderson, S.C., the first of three children of William Erskine Gallant Sr. and Ione Peek Gallant (Ione McCurry Peek).
He was baptized in the Presbyterian church of Anderson, S.C. where he attended kindergarten, followed by attendance in Anderson public schools: North Fant Grammar School, McCants Junior High School, and Anderson Boys High, class of 1942. He attended Davidson College and Duke University before being called to serve in the United States Army during World War II.
He served in the war as a staff sergeant in the 86th Infantry Division, known as the Blackhawks. His first combat area assignment was in Europe, where his division helped press the German army back through France and into Germany. With the end of the war in the European Theater, he was transferred to the Philippines with his division to await the final assault on Japan. Fortunately, the Japanese capitulated, and the War in the Pacific ended.
Mr. Gallant was mustered out of the service and re-entered Duke University, where he majored in English and earned a Bachelor of Arts degree with a concentration in American literature and writing, for which he had a strong talent. He graduated in 1949 and was a member of Beta Theta Pi fraternity.
After graduation he was offered a position on the Anderson Independent and Daily Mail editorial staff by the owner/publisher Wilton E. Hall, but chose instead to follow a career in the Gallant-Belk Group of some 40 department stores founded in 1919 in Anderson by his father. Ultimately, he became executive vice-president of this group of Belk Stores upon the retirement of his father.
During this period of his life, in addition to his retailing responsibilities, Mr. Gallant was involved in the management of the family-owned Lackaday Farm off Abbeville Highway on Airline Road outside of Anderson. He was active in the breeding of fine Aberdeen Angus cattle and for a time served as secretary-treasurer of the South Carolina Angus Association. He developed a love for horseback riding in childhood, and later on raised Irish Connemara ponies at Lackaday.
While on a visit to Greece, Mr. Gallant met Eva Nancy Borglund, a Swedish native and fellow writer and artist. They flew to the United States where they became husband and wife with marriage ceremonies in First Presbyterian Church. Marriage was followed by life on the farm, creating art, and raising their family.
He returned to Europe with his family in 1972, took up residency in London, then spent a year traveling across Europe and into Northern Africa while home-schooling his children. Upon returning stateside they resided in South Carolina for a short time before moving to Massachusetts, and eventually to the Island of Martha’s Vineyard. There, he and his family spent many wonderful years in Oak Bluffs. He remained on the Island until declining health caused him to relocate back to South Carolina to be closer to family.
Mr. Gallant had many artistic talents including painting, photography, pottery, sculpting, and writing. He was a frequent contributor to letters to the editor sections of The New York Times and The Boston Globe. He was passionate about politics and social justice, and gave annually to Doctors Without Borders and Amnesty International.
Mr. Gallant is survived by his children, Eva Nancy Gallant, Julia Peek Gallant, and William Erskine Gallant 3rd, and his grandchildren Kathryn, Jamie, Alexander, and Nicholas. He is preceded in death by his wife, Eva Borglund Gallant, who died Sept. 24.
His family would like to give a special thank you to the staff at Summit Place of Daniel Island for their kindness and professionalism while caring for Mr. Gallant.
William Erskine Gallant Jr. will be greatly missed by family and friends.