Candle lights shine in memory of Galletta

Students take part in the candlelit vigil Wednesday for Thomas Galletta, who died from injuries sustained in a car accident.By Olivia Tattory

Senior Thomas Galletta, Tommy to friends and family and brother of the former Rider chapter of the Phi Kappa Tau (PKT) fraternity, was remembered Wednesday night, his birthday, in a candlelight vigil at Gill Chapel.

Hundreds of students, friends, family and members of the Rider community gathered at 10 p.m. in the chapel and continued the memorial service in front of Lake House residence hall, the former PKT fraternity house.

Tommy Galletta’s brother, Danny, said his brother was someone who could bring a smile to anyone’s face — a caring and outgoing person who appreciated the little things in life.

“I don’t know one person who met him that had anything bad to say about him,” said Danny Galletta. “He was such a good person and would do anything for the people he loved.”

An acoustic guitar played while the procession of white candles, held by those who attended, made its way across campus. Galletta’s fraternity brothers and immediate family formed a tight circle, while others in mourning were loosely arranged around them.

Taran Gallagher, a junior elementary education major, agreed with Danny Galletta. She said when Galletta was alive he would always be there to look out for her.

“I have so much respect for him,” said Gallagher. “I chose him as my big brother because I don’t have an older sibling and I knew that he would be a good role model.”

Gallagher, a sister in the Delta Phi Epsilon (DPE) sorority, said her sisters chose Galletta in the spring to become part of the family. Gallagher remembers the day he was lettered and how excited she was to present Galletta with the DPE letters.

Best friend, fraternity brother and roommate Mike Weinberg, a senior business administration major, recalled how much Galletta loved Rider and truly enjoyed life.

“He was really a good kid and his life was taken entirely too soon,” he said.

Galletta, who would have turned 23 Wednesday, was from Old Bridge, N.J., and died Aug. 28 from injuries sustained in a car accident two weeks earlier.

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