Anaconda has two grand marshals – Ellen Gallagher as well as Larry Lakel – in the St. Patrick’s Day Parade this Saturday.
Gallagher, who is 76, has been a member of the Ladies Ancient Order of Hibernians for 45 years. The group is an Irish Catholic women’s organization and they choose the woman grand marshal for Anaconda’s St. Patrick’s Day parade.
Gallagher can trace her Irish roots back to her paternal grandfather, who relocated to Anaconda from Ireland and worked in the Anaconda Co.’s smelter operation. Gallagher is a third-generation Hibernian.
Currently a Philipsburg resident, Gallagher was born and reared in Anaconda. She graduated from Anaconda Central High School, which was a private Catholic school. She lived in Anaconda as an adult for 35 years.
Gallagher said she was raised both Irish and Catholic, which meant “God and family first.”
She has been married to Bill Gallagher for 56 years. They raised three sons and have five grandchildren.
In addition to being a mom, Gallagher worked for several Anaconda companies, as well as for the 911 call center before she retired.
She used to belong to the Irish Women’s Brigade and the Irish dancers in Anaconda before moving to Philipsburg.
Gallagher will be joined by Larry Lakel, also 76, who will represent the men’s Ancient Order of Hibernians at the parade, which will begin at 2 p.m. Saturday.
Lakel was quick to point out that not only was he born and raised in Anaconda, he’s loved every minute of his life there.
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Lakel can trace his Irish roots to his great-grandparents, who crossed the Atlantic and the North American continent to land in Anaconda in 1882.
Butte resident Enda Bowman, who turns 99 years old Friday, will be the grand marshal of Butte's legendary St. Patrick’s Day parade Saturday.
Lakel said his great-grandfather went to work in the liquor business in Anaconda.
Lakel worked at the concentrator in Butte and at the Washoe Smelter in Anaconda for years until Atlantic Richfield Company closed the smelter’s doors in 1980. Lakel then went to work for the Montana State Prison system, before landing the role of director of an alcohol and drug program in Anaconda.
Lakel’s wife, Ann, is British. Lakel met her in England when he was stationed there during the Vietnam War. Lakel’s wedding was temporarily delayed by the Cuban Missile Crisis in 1962. He joined the Air Force right out of high school.
Lakel and his wife have five sons, 11 grandchildren and seven great-grandchildren. Lakel has been a Hibernian for 38 years and joined because his great-grandfather had been a member of the order in Pennsylvania before coming west.
Lakel said he felt quite honored when he received the letter asking him to help lead the parade.
“I never thought I’d be grand marshal,” Lakel said.