TEWKSBURY – In recognition of Black History Month, Police Chief Ryan Columbus and the Tewksbury Police Department would like to acknowledge the life and contributions of Officer George Gale, the first person of color to serve on the department.
George Gale was a descendent of John J. and Virginia Gale, who fled the south around 1868 to find a better life. The Gale family was one of the first families of Tewksbury, and the first family of color known to live in town.
Nancy Reed, of the Tewksbury Historical Society, researched Gale’s history for Tewksbury Police after Chief Columbus saw Gale mentioned in a historical document and realized he had never heard of the officer before.
Based on historical documents located by Reed, the Gale family was welcomed by townspeople and provided housing by the Farmer family.
John J. Gale worked as a laborer, and operated John Gale and Sons in the early 1900s. He had seven children including George Gale, who was born in 1894.
George Gale joined the Tewksbury Police Department in 1942, and retired in 1958.
George Gale was mentioned in a 1945 police publication which contains a photograph of him in uniform. The publication states, “George Gale of Main Street is the night clerk at the office in the Town Hall. He is a member of one of the first families in town. His father, John came north immediately after the Civil War in 1868. George has been on duty only three years but is considered an old standby. He is kind, courteous, and faithful.”
Officer Gale is also mentioned in a 1932 newspaper publication about the Tewksbury Athletic Club. George was selected as the organization’s Treasurer and was interviewed about the Athletic Club.
“Everybody in Tewksbury knows George A. Gale,” the article states. “No better man could be picked for the job as Treasurer of the T.A.C.”
The club, which had 86 members at the time, provided Tewksbury youth a chance to play football, baseball, boxing, wrestling, hockey, and many other sports.
George Gale served in the U.S. Army in World War I. His brother Ernest was also a veteran of World War I, according to historical documents.
George Gale lived the remainder of his life in Tewksbury, and died in 1985 at age 90. He never married or had children, and has no known descendants left in the area.
“We not only honor our brother Police Officer George Gale, but also his entire family for their service to the community of Tewksbury and our entire country,” said Chief Columbus. “Our hope is to honor George and the Gale family each year, and we may look into raising money to place a historical marker on the family’s gravesite in the Tewksbury Cemetery. I would also like to encourage anyone who has more information the Gale family to reach out to me at 978-851-7373 extension 214.