DELPHOS — This year’s Tri-County Woman of the Year speaks softly and smiles often. She loves her community and makes sure the foundation named for her late husband keeps his legacy of caring alive.

Deb Gallmeier, a retired nurse, former school board member and First Lady of Delphos while her husband served as Delphos Mayor, said her husband’s need to help his fellow man “rubbed off” on her. She now heads the Michael Gallmeier Foundation, which holds a food distribution every other month for those living in the Delphos City School District.

“When Mike was on city council he realized the need here in Delphos and when he became mayor, he knew he wanted to start some type of food distribution, more than what we had,” Gallmeier said.

Free Food on Us began and was offered quarterly with the assisted of the grassroots initiative Community Unity.

“Mike ordered all the food himself and he would be on his computer making sure he was getting the best buys,” she said. “When Mike was sick in 2017, it was one of his biggest fears that it wouldn’t go on. Community Unity stepped up and took it over and it made him so happy. When we lost him in 2018, his sister said to me, ‘Deb, have you thought to carry on some of the things he believed in?’ So we started the Michael Gallmeier Foundation with the help of a dear friend, who helped get it going and we had our 501 3c in no time.”

With the aide of her children, Shane (Brenda), Travis (Kristy) and Kyle, Gallmeier heads the food distributions as well as a coat drive in the fall and more.

“The support, the donations, the volunteers — everything is just amazing. We are every other month now — twice as often as in the beginning. The help that we get is phenomenal so we’ve expanded it and we now do personal hygiene products at the food distributions as well. We spend just as much on personal hygiene as we food because of the donations we’ve had,” Gallmeier said. “People need soap and shampoo and toothpaste, too.”

Gallmeier enlists dozens of volunteers to help make the food distributions easier.

“When I think about it, I share this with everyone out there helping us and supporting us and donating to us and keeping it all going,” Gallmeier said. “My mom and dad and Mike always said you do things for people not for the recognition but because you want to do them. I always say Mike and I grew up together and he really fostered that in me.”

Donations come unexpectedly. For example: Gallmeier was on Facebook Marketplace recently and bought an item for pick up in Delphos. When she arrived at the home to get her purchase, the woman told her to take the item and keep her money and put it toward the foundation.

“She told me she knew what we were doing and wanted to help,” Gallmeier said. “I’ll go get the mail and there will be a check in there. People are just so generous.”

Because of all the response the foundation receives, they in turn can give to other local non-profits that were dear to her late husband’s heart — the Senior Center, the Canal Commission, the Community Christmas Project, Beyond Expectations — to name a few.

“It still amazes me what the people of Delphos can do,” Gallmeier said. “They are who really deserve this award,”

The daughter of Mary and Doyle Long, Gallmeier has two brothers, Dave and Denny; and one sister, Diane. Gallmeier also has six grandchildren, Logan, Isaac, Alissa, Aubree, Alivia and Ava.