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St. Louis man takes family on intercontinental adventure, inspires book about grandparenting

Paul Gallant is a local grandfather whose family’s story inspired a book.
Evie Hemphill | St. Louis Public Radio
Paul Gallant is a local grandfather whose family’s story inspired a book.";

The relationships cultivated across generations within a family can be seen as valuable for a number of reasons, and grandparents play a special role in it all.

On Thursday’s St. Louis on the Air, host Don Marsh spoke with one local man whose family’s story was turned into a book. Over the course of three decades, Paul Gallant explored the seven continents, but with some unlikely travel companions: his grandchildren.

“At the ages of 6 and 9, we decided to take them on a trip. Where did we go?” Gallant began. “We went to Cancun … it was wonderful. The kids were terrific, we bonded; they ate everything they wanted to eat. We were grandparents, we didn’t care if they ate ice cream for breakfast – nothing mattered.”

From New York City and Costa Rica to Australia and Africa, Gallant made it a priority to go on annual trips around the world with his two grandsons.

“These experiences just manifest themselves into relationships,” Gallant said.

Richard Weiss, former editor and reporter for the St. Louis Post-Dispatch and now author of “The Grand Journey: Lessons Learned While Navigating Wild Animals and Wilder Times with our Grandkids,” also joined the conversation via phone.

“[The Gallants] were all-in with their grandkids,” Weiss said. “What they did is they really listened to their grandkids and thought about, ‘What is it that they want? What is it that they would enjoy? Where would they like to go?’ … the Gallants were great listeners in terms of their grandkids.”

Even after the children grew up and left for college, Gallant said they still had it on their minds to travel with their grandparents.

“Frankly I don’t think we thought of being on six continents with one more to go,” Gallant explained. “The little one … [called] me from Mizzou and [said], ‘Papa – we’ve only been to six continents. What’s wrong with number seven?’ The next day, we booked it.”

While the journey ended with a trip to Antarctica, the familial love remained intact.

“I think they see the wanderlust, and I think they see the love that transcends generations,” Gallant said.

Wrapping up the segment, Weiss added, “Grandparents are actually in many ways the family historians, and raising good children I think requires their understanding of where they came from and what their families are all about. It gives them something to live up to, or in some cases, not to repeat ... [It’s like] finding the North Star in your life to know your family story.”

St. Louis on the Air brings you the stories of St. Louis and the people who live, work and create in our region. St. Louis on the Air host Don Marsh and producers Mary EdwardsAlex HeuerEvie Hemphill and Caitlin Lally give you the information you need to make informed decisions and stay in touch with our diverse and vibrant St. Louis region.

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Caitlin Lally is thrilled to join St. Louis Public Radio as the summer production intern for "St. Louis on the Air." With a bachelor's degree in journalism from Southern Illinois University Edwardsville, Caitlin also freelances for area publications like Sauce Magazine and the Belleville News-Democrat. In her career, she's covered topics such as Trump's travel ban, political protests and community activism. When she's not producing audio segments or transcribing interviews, Caitlin enjoys practicing yoga, seeing live music, and cooking plant-based meals.

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