Freedom Fighter Elfriede “Elfie” Gallun (1932-2019), R.I.P.

She was as sweet and as principled as it gets, and always both at the same time.

It is my sad duty to inform our readers that a great friend of FEE and freedom, Elfie Gallun, departed this world for her reward on January 22. She was preceded in death a little over two years ago by her husband Edwin “Ned” Gallun, with whom she was happily married for 59 years.

The couple lived in Mayville, Wisconsin, where the company Ned built—Metalcraft of Mayville—is located. Their son Martin now serves as Chairman and CEO and is also a member of FEE’s board of trustees.

Elfie appreciated freedom immensely because she knew firsthand what its absence looks like. At the age of 19 in 1952, a citizen of communist East Germany, she conquered danger to escape across the border to West Germany. She wrote about it in 1984 in a touching letter to President Reagan. You can read that letter, and Reagan’s reply, here.

Ned and Elfie were a team for nearly six decades. For 40 of those years, never missing a one, they were annual donors to FEE. Indeed, their cumulative gifts make them the largest donor couple in our history. Their images are the first that many people see when they walk into our Atlanta headquarters.

When son Martin informed me of the news of Elfie’s passing, I wrote him this:

I’ll never forget the first time I met both your mom and dad. We had dinner at, I think, a country club or maybe it was just a very nice restaurant. I heard her story that first time and always thought of her as a hero ever since, and your dad as well. She was as sweet and as principled as it gets, and always both at the same time. I am so very proud that no one can walk into our office and not see almost immediately the image of them both.

My 2016 book, Real Heroes: Inspiring True Stories of Courage, Character and Conviction, was dedicated to two couples: Ron and Jenny Manners of Perth, Australia; and Ned and Elfie Gallun of Mayville, Wisconsin.

Elfie was born in East Prussia. Her formal schooling was cut short by World War II but she was a lifelong learner on her own. She educated herself in medicine, nutrition, and her favorite book, The Bible. She wore a beautiful smile almost all the time, probably because her twin faiths—in her Maker and in freedom—imparted an inner peace so many people only yearn for.

All of us in the FEE family extend the most sincere condolences to the Gallun family.

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