Thomas Galle Sr. would ask his children if they wanted to go to the Mattress Ball.
When they got excited, he’d tell them they had to put on their pajamas to attend. Then he’d haul them to bed, his oldest son said.
“He was a jokester,” said J.B. Galle, but he was also one tough cop, a musician in his band The String Bandits and a man who survived cancer when the doctors said he wouldn’t.
Thomas Galle, a man who lived in Ocean Springs most of his life and was one of three hired to start the police force in 1953, died Sunday at 88. He served under Ocean Springs’ first police chief Wylie Broome.
J.B. Galle remembers stories his father told about when he had a shootout with three men at a convenience store or when he arrested a man in Ocean Springs from the FBI’s 10 Most Wanted list in 1968.
He said his father kept an old cigarette lighter — indented by buck shot pellets — as a memento from a man he shot during a traffic stop at the foot of the Biloxi Bay Bridge. He would tell the story about how the man went for a gun, and he covered his partner.
“I’m sure it’s still around the house somewhere,” J.B. Galle said. He said he always heard the stories growing up and wondered about them until one day a Mississippi Highway Patrol trooper told him that when he called for backup, he hoped it would be Thomas Galle who showed up.
J.B. Galle said, “He said, ‘When your daddy came, I knew my back was covered. I could depend on your daddy and what he would do if something happened.’”
“He just didn’t take any bull off anyone,” J.B. Galle said. “He didn’t run and hide.”
He had T.G. engraved on his handcuffs and people said it stood for Tough Guts, but his son said he was known best for being dependable.
He was a U.S. Navy veteran from the end of WWII, a member of St. Alphonsus Catholic Church and the Knights of Columbus. After leaving the police force in 1970, he harvested oysters and crabbed. He loved playing and singing country music and wrote some of his own songs.
He and his band were a fixture at the Elks Fishing Rodeo for more than a decade.
He outlived his wife of 58 years, Doris Beaugez Galle, by more than a decade and he outlived a diagnosis of colon cancer, back when the treatment was pretty rough. J.B. Galle said his father liked to tease his wife and son for making funeral arrangements prematurely, after the diagnosis, years and years before he needed it.
Galle said his father would stay at his home on General Pershing Street in Ocean Springs during storms when J.B. Galle took his mother to his home in Gulf Park Estates for safety.
J.B. Galle got two feet of water in his home and had to evacuate his mother during Hurricane Katrina. Thomas Galle stayed dry.
His father was the last of his brothers and sisters to die, J.B. Galle said. He died peacefully at home in bed.
Visitation will be from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. Tuesday at the Ocean Springs Chapel of Bradford O’Keefe Funeral Home. Galle will lie in state from 10 a.m. to 11a.m. Wednesday at St. Alphonsus Catholic Church in Ocean Springs, with an 11a.m. Mass of Christian Burial. He will be buried at Bellande Cemetery.