On New Year’s Day, 2020, we lost a bright light. Sean Noel Gallik died tragically during an epileptic seizure at the age of 25. His life was too short, but it was rich with depth that comes only from exploring both dark and light.
Sean was a native of Bozeman. He was born a little early and a little grumpy. It is lovingly said that he had three years of colic. But he also had a bright spirit, huge imagination and joyful laugh that took your breath away.
As a child he was most often seen in costume. Once at Southside Park on the jungle gym, some older kids teased him about his Batman costume. He busted one in the nose and that settled that. Sean loved all kinds of music and had great potential on the piano, according to his beloved teacher, Sandy Bellingham. Quitting piano was a huge regret for Sean, who had taken up guitar recently to fill a creative gap. He was an expert skier thanks to Mogul Mice at Bridger Bowl and many powder days at Big Sky. Sean trained in Taekwondo with Brandon Saltz and Sally Sills at Taekwondo West and achieved red belt status.
Sean approached life with a creative spirit and keen intellectual curiosity. His love of learning began with a wonderful early education at Pilgrim Preschool, Highland Montessori, and Longfellow Elementary School, where he was nurtured by amazing teachers like Vicky Thompson, Mary Cota, Kristi Crawford and Carol Rae Cambianica. During middle school, Sean developed an interest in photography and film. He had an artist’s eye. He especially enjoyed filming his brother and friends doing crazy stunts on skis. As you can imagine, he was in demand on the slopes. In 2009, when the natural gas explosion devastated downtown Bozeman, Sean was on the spot recording it all (luckily, he had faked illness that day and stayed home from school). His footage of the explosion and fire were broadcast around the world on CNN.
Tall and lean with chiseled features, Sean had movie star good looks, think Leonardo DiCaprio. He had a distinct flair for fashion and did not subscribe to the dress down, blue jean, tee-shirt ethos of Bozeman. He described a night in New York City to see the play Hamilton as the best night of his life.
Sean was blessed with many special friendships growing up, including Jimmy and Jackson Crawford, Jake and Emma Mahan, Riley and Jessa Emmer, Spencer Baldwin, Wyatt Domanski, Keaton Ward, Kenna Zillis, and Ariel Loli. His brother, Keir, was his hero; they were never far apart. Keir’s gentle way was the perfect complement to Sean’s intensity.
During high school, Sean’s adventurous spirit turned in a dangerous direction and his innocent dabbling with drugs and alcohol turned into the darkness of a serious addiction. Through his courageous struggle and with the help of the AA program, the amazing staff at Jaywalker Lodge in Carbondale, Colorado, and his counselor, Stacey Eldridge, Sean connected with the spiritual principles of love, acceptance and service to conquer his addiction, one day at a time. He had been sober for almost two years. These principles also helped him cope with occasional seizures, caused by the medical condition of epilepsy, with courage and grace and without self-pity. He was committed to reaching out to others who were struggling. In what turned out to be the final week of his life, Sean devoted much time and energy to helping a friend in the throes of addiction. He understood that helping others was a key to maintaining his own sobriety and spiritual condition.
Sean was an idealist, caring deeply about the future of the planet and its people. He astutely followed politics and current events and was deeply concerned with justice for all, not just the powerful. He viewed the rise of the Trump Administration with dismay, though he never lost hope for our country and the world around us. Sean worked from an early age as a paralegal at his father’s law firm, turning out work product of the quality that could have been produced by a seasoned attorney. Not surprisingly, he was interested in pursuing a law degree after completing his undergraduate degree in Psychology from MSU.
Sean, through your strengths and vulnerabilities you made us stronger, better people. You will always walk beside us. We love you.
Sean is preceded in death by his grandfather, James Noel Smith. He is survived by his parents, Brian Gallik (Amy) and Terry Smith (Greg Johnson); brother, Keir Gallik; grandparents, Ken and Beverly Gallik and Camie Smith; aunts and uncles, Mark Smith, Sandra Chuang (Yueh), and Carol Melchior (Gary); and cousins, Ember Harper (Matt, Liam, Nora), and Tyler Smith.
A Celebration of Life will be Friday, January 10 at 11 A.M. at Pilgrim Congregational Church, followed by a reception at the Baxter Ballroom.
In lieu of flowers, please make donations to The Epilepsy Foundation [donate.epilepsy.com].
Arrangements are in the care of Dokken-Nelson Funeral Service. www.dokkennelson.com