Samme Gallaher was the 3rd and youngest daughter of Blanche Gillham Gallaher and Samuel LeRoy Gallaher (usually known as Roy), who settled in Fresno, CA when Samme was still a baby. A hugely defining event in her life occurred at age 15, when her oldest sister, Aileen, asked their parents to let Samme come live in Alaska with her and her husband, Slim Williams, in a cabin in the Copper River Valley. There she learned to drive a dog team, shoot a rifle and hunt caribou, and many other skills required to live in the wilderness year round. Her book, Sisters: Coming of Age and Living Dangerously in the Copper River Valley, tells the story of her adventures in Alaska in 1927-28 and again when she returned in 1929-30.
Samme spent the last years of her career working in the office of a nursing home in Pasadena, before retiring at age 65. During these years and following her retirement, Samme loved to travel and visited Europe three times, as well as Scandinavia, China, Japan, Phillipines, Canada and Mexico. Una and David had retired to Hemet, CA, as had Aileen, while Geri was living in Santa Monica. After retiring, Samme and Aileen lived together for many years in several different homes and locations, ending up back in Hemet, where David had lived alone since Una's passing in 1973.
So, at age 87, she acquired her first computer and began making notes for the book that was to become Sisters: Coming of Age and Living Dangerously in the Copper River Valley. She returned to Alaska every summer but one for the next 11 years, driving alone or with a companion, and ferrying along the Inside Passage. During these trips she met many wonderful people whose friendships she enjoyed and cherished throughout the past 15 years. Samme passed away in 2014.
Above all, Samme was a natural storyteller and was frequently found writing stories on her computer. In addition to the books mentioned above, she also wrote Moonlight Madness, a book of short stories about Alaska, most of which were inspired by tales she heard at roadhouses and from others when she lived in Alaska. Her last book, Apache Spring and Other Short Stories, is a collection of stories inspired by various episodes in her life and her travels around the U.S. During the last days of her life, she spoke several times of longing to get back to her computer and write down some of the new stories that were still forming in her active imagination.
Moonlight Madness Sisters