The Heart of Kernersville

By NJ Clausen

Happy summer to all! In July, many celebrate Independence Day with parades, fireworks, and favorite foods. As history shows, freedom comes at a cost that is worth fighting for. Thank you to all who have served our country. This month I have the pleasure of introducing you to one of the many who have served… Keith Gallman.

Keith was born in Washington, D.C. and was the youngest of four siblings, with two older brothers and a sister. The family moved to Virginia, where he enjoyed playing outside with his cousins. They played a lot of kickball, tag, and badminton; Keith remembers going to a little back creek area and catching crawdads. His favorite subject in school was math, however, he shared that he was really shy and quiet during his school years.

Keith had signed up to join the Marines before he finished high school, choosing the same branch of service as his father and brother. After training in California for his MOS (Military Occupational Skill), Keith recalled his first day at Camp Lajeune and seeing a “starched and pressed” E7 Gunnery Sergeant with a stern look on his face who kept pacing back and forth. Keith was with a few others who were sitting back and watching, when the Gunnery Sergeant came to the group and said, “You three, (pointing to Keith and some others) come with me.” He brought them to their barracks and told them, “I picked you because you were sitting back observing, not smoking and joking, and that is what I like, and the kind of Marines I want in my platoon.”

Paying attention to his surroundings and observing is something Keith has carried with him throughout his career, and a lesson he taught to his children. Keith was sent from Japan to Saudi Arabia during Desert Storm and was a crew leader in the desert for 11 months. When asked what he would say to youth considering joining military service, Keith suggests everybody should do 1-2 years, as it teaches discipline and camaraderie; and provides a brotherhood that some people may consider corny but is very real. For Keith, the Fourth of July and the Marine Corp Birthday are two of his favorite holidays, as they hit closer since his military service.

After Keith left the military, he took a job as a server in a restaurant. He was still soft spoken and shy, and his co-workers told him that he needed to change, so he did, and he became more outgoing. He had a friend who was in modeling, who told Keith that he needed to try it. Keith took some classes, and while most of his classmates wanted to be in movies, Keith preferred clothes and fashion. Although it was a slow start, when he moved in with his sister in Kentucky, he started doing more print work and fashion shows; he also working as a bouncer at a popular club during this time. He was hired as an extra for a movie where he played a millionaire in a tuxedo at an outdoor party in Kentucky.

Keith later took a job in a pawn shop where he met Jo—she came in to get a necklace fixed and, as they both say, she left with a husband! They married, had children, and moved to Kernersville when their last two were in middle school. Keith laughed as he talked about the first Christmas parade that the family went to, and how they all got sunburned! Keith started working at a bank in town, was quickly promoted, and was transferred to a different branch in Mayodan. He commuted for over 2 years, then applied for and procured a job at the Allegacy Credit Union in Kernersville to have more time with his family. Keith is very, very thankful and grateful for his family, the closeness they share and the respect they have for each other.

When asked how he maintains such a positive attitude, Keith shared some of the most impactful words he had heard, which came from a show that involved a prank and the person who did not let it affect him. The phrase? “I do not let people rent space in my head.” An example he used is if someone cuts you off when driving, they are not going to be thinking about you, so why let that ruin your day?

One comment on “The Heart of Kernersville

  1. Martha Williams

    Hey Keith I wish you and family a fun-filled Fourth miss you weekly at the bank thank you for all you service the. n and now love you bunches from Mrs Williams

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