Weekly Local Biography

  Linda Galloway, Ph.D.

I want to tell you a beautiful story, not exactly a Tale of Two Cities but a tale of two lives, of two careers, all belonging to one woman. I want to tell you about academically precocious Linda Galloway, a serious and focused student, who became Linda Galloway, Ph.D. – scholar, professor, medical researcher – and how she evolved into Linda Galloway, FGA, DGA – Fellow of the Gemological Association of Great Britain, member of the Diamond Grading Association, jewelry designer, cat breeder, television personality. She has experienced great successes, and she has suffered great losses. She says she doesn’t adjust well to change, but she seems like a champion to me.

Linda was born in Patterson, New Jersey, USA, a town known as “silk city” to New York’s garment industry. Her family was so Italian that they served lasagna for Thanksgiving dinner rather than turkey. Like many successful businessmen in Patterson, Linda’s father dealt in silk. Her parents doted on their only child, moving to better school districts as finances allowed. She was a very good student, though perhaps too focused on academics.

New Jersey was too suburban for her tastes, but she loved nearby New York City with its theaters, fine restaurants, street vendors and their famous hot dogs. She graduated from high school and went to William and Mary College in Virginia to study biology. Culture shock hit her hard. She found herself in conservative, traditional Virginia. The girls wore demure blouses and skirts, and were not allowed to wear slacks outside of the dorm. The female students, not the males, endured a demerit system. She learned to adapt and assume a ladylike veneer.

She graduated with a degree in biology, intent on entering medical school. But her father simply told her the family could not afford it. He offered to buy her a horse, but that wasn’t a fair trade to Linda. With hurt feelings, she turned to a professor who helped her find a fellowship to pay her way through graduate school. She entered the University of Southern California, but found the program unexciting. She took a summer course in Cape Cod, and it was “magic”. She met a professor from Tulane University there who helped her obtain a teaching assistantship, and she moved to New Orleans to continue her studies at Tulane. She fell in love with the city, its French culture and fabulous food. She and her friends rode the streetcar to Caf้ du Monde where they drank coffee with chicory and ate beignets. She thrived. Then the program faltered financially, and she had to look for work to continue her studies. She found a job at Louisiana State University Medical School with a Professor Emeritus of histochemistry. He saw her talent, encouraged her, and Linda Galloway soon became Linda Galloway, Ph.D.

She took post-doctoral studies at Columbia University, then segued to New York University where she taught neurobiology for two years. The Medical College of Georgia offered her the position of Director of Histopathology. She was there for six years, wrote a book and built a strong department. She moved to the University of Kansas Medical Center and again fell in love with a city. The people from America’s heartland were warm and welcoming. She met and married her husband. Life was good. But when it came time for tenure, she was turned down. Disappointed and disillusioned, she looked around for other opportunities, and found one at the University of Hong Kong.

Hired to teach neuroscience, she was given the usual posh hiring contract and benefits afforded foreign professors. She secured huge research grants for the university, the laboratory she developed ran well, her personal research projects were well-funded and productive. But life was not very good. Her marriage “got lost in the Hong Kong transition” and she couldn’t retrieve it. So she began to raise exotic longhaired Asian cats. She dabbled with jewelry design. And then she became ill.

She was increasingly exposed to formaldehyde because her classes were scheduled in the gross anatomy lab. The ventilation system was poor. She developed asthma, and she had “flu” every few weeks. A physician diagnosed a severe allergy to formaldehyde. She reported it to the university, and the Great Cover Up began. Apparently fearing liability, the university began to slowly force her out. Fewer classes were scheduled, then none. It was 1997 and Hong Kong was changing. As a western woman she found little support. She finally took a severance package and retired. She went to Phuket to rest because she loved Thailand, then went to the U.S. to get well.

She was tired and depressed. Who was she, if not a professor of biological sciences, a scholar, a researcher? She went back and forth between the US and Hong Kong, searching, always searching. But Hong Kong had changed and so had she.

Then she had an unwanted visitor – dark, dangerous, frightening – cancer. Her parents were in their 80s and living in a retirement community in Florida. “Come home”, they said, and she did. Throughout the months following surgery they took care of her. She says it was the most precious time she’s had ever had. She finally knew her parents as people.

She began to recover. “Is this all there is?” she wondered. Her father took her aside. “Go”, he said, “to Thailand.” He knew she loved it. She says he released her to start a new chapter in her life while they lived out their final ones. She moved to Chiang Mai, a certified gemologist with a small business. She was asked to appear on television in Japan as a guest expert on gems. She made enough money to live month to month. She began to be happy.

Now she dances to Latin music. She raises beautiful cats. She designs and sells jewelry. She appears on television. She does the things she loves. She has friends. She wants her book of life to end on a happy note. I have no doubt that it will.