Friends remember an adventurous soul | VailDaily.com

Friends remember an adventurous soul

Christine Ina Casillas

Special to the DailyEdwards resident Jeff Galley lived for skiing, rock climbing, adventure - but mostly he loved life.

A natural athlete, the 29-year-old Edwards resident loved skiing, mountain climbing, camping and just exploring the world – and life. Galley died Friday after battling anaplastic astrocytoma – an aggressive form of brain cancer.

“He didn’t want to conform to anything,” said his mother, Judy Galley. “He always wanted to do things his own way.”

Galley moved to the valley in 1996 with his friend, Dave Smith. The mountains and the skiing drew the boys to Vail, Smith said. They would read SKI magazine and dream about leaving their hometown of Clarkston, Mich., to live in the mountains.

“It was pretty easy for us to move out here,” Smith said. “We were both skiers in Michigan. Jeff and I sort of got lost after high school, and it made sense for us to move here.”

After two years of college, the duo decided it was time to change. The change came on Halloween of 1996.

“We stayed up all night partying,” Smith said. “And then we left early the next morning and drove all the way out here. By the time we got here, we were at each other’s throats because we couldn’t find the house.”

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That same year, the duo began telemark and alpine skiing. At 20-years-old, Smith said it was time to go back to school. Galley stayed behind, and he began rock climbing.

Climbing the rock

“I knew Jeff through climbing,” said Tambi Katieb, a friend. “We used to go climbing all the time. Climbing and bouldering.”

The first time Galley tied a rope, Katieb said, was in the Flat Irons outside of Boulder.

“He just went up with no questions about it,” Katieb said. “During the summers, we used to meet for lunch a couple of times a week and go bouldering. After, when he would start to get tired or we were just lazy, we’d get all of our gear out and sit around and get a sun tan, but tell everyone we went bouldering.”

His mother remembered when Galley first came home after learning to rock climb, and he brought his gear home.

“When he brought his gear home, I thought, “What are you going to climb in Michigan?'” His mother said. “He would climb the bricks outside of the house. And he kept doing it. It was driving me crazy.”

But it was the outdoors and mountains that drove him the most.

“He was a true mountaineer type of guy,” said Amanda Selig, a friend. “He loved driving my jeep. There were places he would go with it, and say, “I think I can make it out of here,’ but we were probably in someone’s back yard.

“”We’re not going to make it out of here,’ I thought. But we did,” she added. “He’d figure out how to get out of there.”

Steve Visoski remembers an even more daring Galley.

“We went ski jumping last year,” Visoski said. “After we found out about his tumor, we went to Steamboat. We were at one of those Olympic-style ski jumps, looking all the way down. I said, “I don’t know if we should do this. I don’t think your doctor would approve of this.’ And he said, “You just keep your mouth shut.’

“Then this guy named Gunter came up to us and said, “Nobody jumps off this.’ Jeff said, “I do.’ And we went off it.”

“He was a good kid’

On May 20, 2002, Galley was diagnosed with anaplastic astrocytoma.

At the time, his mother wanted to bring him home to Michigan. But after she arrived with her husband, Ron, and they saw how close their son was to his friends and surroundings, they decided against it.

“He would have died quicker in the city – I know he would have,” Judy Galley said.

His father agreed.

“Jeff got hooked on these mountains,” Ron Galley said. “He was tired of the academic life and he didn’t like the formalities of regimented schooling. But he was a good kid. He never would have left here. I wouldn’t have wanted it any other way.”

Jeffrey Galley is survived by his parents, Ron and Judy Galley; two brothers, Michael and Brian; two sisters-in-law, Tina and Whitney; a nephew, Nicholas; his grandparents, Pauline and Joseph Sedlar; and his grandmother, Marian Galley.

Christine Ina Casillas can be reached at 949-0555, ext. 607 or at ccasillas@vaildaily.com.