- Associated Press - Tuesday, May 26, 2015

HELENA, Mont. (AP) - William Gallagher Jr., an attorney and former chairman of the Montana Public Service Commission, has died of pancreatic cancer. He was 55.

Gallagher died Friday, according to Anderson Stevenson Wilke Funeral Home.

Gallagher wrote his own obituary in which he displayed his humor while recounting his faith, love for his family and Montana, and appreciation for the nearly two years’ “heads up” he had before his death, allowing him time to repair some relationships.

Gallagher first came to Montana to play basketball at Western Montana College in Dillon, graduating in 1983. He taught history and coached in Plains, owned an insurance business in Polson, invested in other businesses and worked as a farmer before attending the University of Montana Law School.

He began a solo law practice in Helena in 2005. Gallagher served on the Public Service Commission from 2011 until earlier this year. He oversaw the sale of 11 hydroelectric dams from PPL Montana to NorthWestern Energy.

He was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer in 2013.

“About the time you think your life is in the middle of tragedy, hold on, you might one day be writing your own obituary explaining how all of the bad things in your life turned into delightful blessings,” Gallagher wrote in his obituary.

In April, NorthWestern Energy held a ceremony to rename the control room at Rainbow Dam after Gallagher.

He wrote a final Facebook entry that his daughter posted on Sunday. In it, he offers a final bit of advice: “this isn’t a dress rehearsal and you only get one go around here, so live your life intentionally.”

Gallagher is survived by his wife of 37 years, Jennifer, children David and Catrina and five grandchildren.

His funeral service is scheduled Thursday at Last Chance Chapel in Birdseye, followed by burial Saturday at his “last real estate purchase” in Plains Cemetery.

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