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Rear Adm. Noel Preston, commander of Navy Region Europe, congratulates retiring Naples American High School principal Kay Galloway on Thursday at her retirement ceremony — Galloway’s second time retiring — while the base commanding officer, Capt. Floyd Hehe, offers public remarks at the school’s stadium.

Rear Adm. Noel Preston, commander of Navy Region Europe, congratulates retiring Naples American High School principal Kay Galloway on Thursday at her retirement ceremony — Galloway’s second time retiring — while the base commanding officer, Capt. Floyd Hehe, offers public remarks at the school’s stadium. (Sandra Jontz / S&S)

NAPLES, Italy — This time, Kay Galloway intends to stay retired.

Back in 1999, after 390 days in retirement, a phone message in September had an urgent request from her old bosses in the overseas military school system: the principal at Naples American High School had quit abruptly and would Galloway consider coming back, if even for just a little while?

She did. And stayed for seven years.

“Now, it’s time for me to go. I mean, after 42 years, I think it’s my turn to play, don’t you?” Galloway, 66, said in a brief interview after she bid farewell to an assembled group of well-wishers who filled the stands at the school’s stadium.

The Naples community said goodbye twice Thursday: to Galloway, and departing assistant principal Ofelia Robles, who retired after 33 years as an educator at both stateside schools and with the Department of Defense Dependents Schools.

The school’s new principal will be Sandra Daniels, who moves from nearby Gaeta, Italy, and the assistant principal will be James Funk, currently at Baumholder, Germany.

Under warm, clear blue skies, military and educational leaders lauded the two women as exceptional educators who unselfishly gave much of themselves to their own passion — teaching.

Galloway’s leadership style was humble and modest, a most effective method, said Daniel Lizzul, president of the Naples Navy League chapter.

Robles was described as hardworking, charming, dedicated and supportive by teacher Ronald Ginter. “It’s hard to summarize this important rite of passage … and the significance this person has had on my life and on many others’,” he said.

“Know what you do in life and do it with passion,” Robles told the assembly.

Addressing the students, she said even if they chose a much-less challenging path and end up being “bums,” they should “be bums with passion” — but not at their parents’ homes, she added, joking.

Galloway addressed her farewell to those who have meant most to her.

“Always conduct yourselves with honor,” she told the students after advising them that, if they’d be embarrassed to recount to their grandparents something they had done, they shouldn’t do it.

She commended the students for their intelligence and love, and, as she choked back tears, urged them to maintain their high standards. “Be true to the beliefs of your parents” and others who help shape their lives, she said.

Galloway said she plans to spend much of her days traveling, and if New Hampshire doesn’t already have a tour book that charts every historical state marker, well, she’s ready to take on that task.

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