Irene Burton Gallat
Mrs. Irene Burton Gallat, daughter, sister, wife and mother, passed away peacefully at her home in Lockhart on Dec. 17, 2006. She was born on July 11, 1913, to Andy and Anna (Marshall) Burton.
She was preceded in death by her beloved husband of many years, Ernest Gallat, along with two brothers, Dewey and Frederick Ted Burton, and one sister, Delia Mae Burton Blackburn
Irene is survived by her only child, Barbara Gallat Lind-Kaiser of Caldwell County; her sister-in-law, Mrs. Marie Burton of Lockhart, along with numerous nieces and nephews.
Irene was a long-time active member of the First Lockhart Baptist Church, where she enjoyed teaching Sunday School. After her retirement, Mrs. Gallat went back home to her roots where the Burton family children grew up. She joined the Lytton Springs Baptist Church in 2000.
After graduating from Southwest Texas State with a Teaching degree, Mrs. Gallat taught locally around the county (in one-room school houses, equipped only with a pot-bellied stove which usually kept only one side of you warm). She was recruited by the Federal Government to be among the first Civil Service employees assigned to Bergstrom Air Force Base, which would open on Sept. 12, 1942. Her first day at work, she recalled, the base was just tents in a cotton field, and later, tarpaper shacks. She said they built the base around their chairs. In 1942, the base held a contest to name the future base newspaper. Irene”s suggestion of the Jet Gazette won. She received a $100 Savings Bond.
Mrs. Gallat also remembered that during the war, there were German soldiers housed near an air field (with only a chain link fence). All Civil Service employees (especially women) were warned not to speak to nor fraternize with the prisoners of war. She recalls walking to the base mess hall for lunch, her route taking her within ear shot of the fence. She was surprised to hear how many Germans spoke perfect English and were begging anyone who would listen for candy or cigarettes.
Mrs. Gallat”s duties included teaching Air Force reading and writing classes. These classes were mandatory for all enlisted personnel (from Sergeants to Generals). These classes would last about a week and occurred about once a month. In addition to her teaching duties, she served as Secretary/Administrator to the Base commander. In 1988, Mrs. Gallat received the Tactical Air Command”s Senior Enlisted Grade Civilian Administrator Award. Irene and her family were flown to Washington D.C., where she received her award. The ceremony took place at the Pentagon and the plaque was presented by the Vice President of the United States.
After 50 years of faithful service chalk-full of awards, she retired when Bergstrom “retired” in 1992. Irene was presented the flag that was flying over Bergstrom on her last day. In 1997, Mrs. Gallat was interviewed by the Smithsonian Air & Space Magazine regarding her long-term career. The article was appropriately entitled “The End.” After her retirement, Mrs. Gallat settled in and started writing, nine books in all.
On Tuesday, Dec. 19, 2006, a simple graveside service was performed by Pastor Ron Danley of the Lytton Springs Baptist Church in the Lockhart City Cemetery, where Mrs. Gallat was laid to rest beside her husband. Arrangements were made under the care and guidance of McCurdy Funeral Home, 105 E. Pecan St., (512) 398-4791