Walter Neal Gallagher, 88, a dentist who retired from the Navy in 1972, died July 15 at his home in Kensington. He had leukemia.

Dr. Gallagher was a native of Audenried, Pa., and a graduate of Temple University, where he also received his dentistry degree. He interned at Hahnemann and Temple University hospitals and at the Forsythe Dental Infirmary in Boston.

He was in private practice in Hazleton, Pa., before World War II. He served during the war in the South Pacific. Later tours included Cuba and Italy. In this area, he was assigned to the Bethesda Naval Medical Center, where his duties included being the court-martial officer for the Naval Dental School.

He also was posted to the Navy medicine and surgery bureau as a special projects officer. There, he developed a program for preventive dentistry for shipboard personnel. He also designed mobile dental units for use in remote areas. His Navy honors included a Meritorious Service Medal. He also was given an outstanding alumni award from Temple University.

Dr. Gallagher wrote books about dentistry and invented a water control device for dental operating units.

He was a fellow of the American and international colleges of dentists and a member of Holy Redeemer Catholic Church in Kensington, Omicron Kappa Upsilon and Psi Omega dental societies and the American Dental Association.

Survivors include his wife, Meta Hollender Gallagher of Kensington; three children, Dr. Kathleen Gallagher Oxner of Greenville, S.C.; Dr. Nancy Gallagher O'Donoghue of Bethesda and Dr. W. Neal Gallagher Jr. of Libertyville, Ill.; nine grandchildren; and two great-grandchildren.