Brooklyn real estate mogul Mary Kay Gallagher remembered by family as ‘glue that held it all together’

Mary Kay Gallagher, real estate icon, passed away on Nov. 24, 2022.
Brooklyn real estate icon Mary Kay Gallagher died on Nov. 24, 2022.
Alexandra Reddish

Brooklyn real estate icon Mary Kay Gallagher died Thursday, Nov. 24 at the age of 102.

Born Mary Kay Drueding, Gallagher forged a formidable career in real estate, becoming well-known for her passion of preservation with her “Victorian Flatbush” revival work within the Ditmas Park and Prospect Park South neighborhoods after getting her start in the business in the 1950s.

She founded the Mary Kay Gallagher Real Estate company, which continues to operate today, and worked alongside her family members to try to sell older homes while maintaining their original integrity.

“I don’t sell houses, I show them,” she told the New York Times in 2010. “I push, but I’m not pushy. I push up the neighborhood. I don’t pull those real estate agent stunts. I live here. I care who moves in, because what happens to these houses matters to me.”

Gallagher was married to the late John T. Gallagher (Jack), and was mother to six children: Katherine Gallagher, Joanne M. Oplustil (Kaz), Arthur J.Gallagher (Alice), Edward Gallagher (Patti) and the late Eileen Cullen and John T. Gallagher Jr (JT).

She is also survived by grandchildren Zutek Oplustil, Alexandra Reddish, Simon Thomsen, Christopher Gallagher, Kelly Barger, Emmett Cullen, Charlie Cullen, Brittney and Erin Gallagher and eight great-grandchildren.

Reddish currently works to continue her grandmother’s legacy at the Mary Kay Gallagher Real Estate company where she is known as “the expert” in residential sales in Victorian Flatbush and for her exhaustive knowledge of Victorian period properties.

Oplustil, Gallagher’s daughter, also worked part time at the real estate firm and praised her mother’s work ethic as well as her warmth.

“Our house was always open to family and our friends,” Oplustil told Brooklyn Paper. “Mom always wanted to get to know our friends and our friends became mom’s friends. She started her career in her 50’s and made sure that all the children knew there was a place for us with the business.”

Dubbed the “real estate queen of Ditmas Park” by the New York Times, Gallagher was also a legend amongst her family members.

“Mom was the glue that held it all together,” Oplustil said. “She played tennis until her mid-eighties and sold real estate until her mid-to-late nineties. They don’t make them like Mary Kay anymore.”