Arthur B. (Burton) Gahan was born on December 9, 1880, on his parents' farm three miles from Manhattan, Kansas. He attended Kansas State College, working the summers in the Kansas wheat harvest. In 1904, Gahan accepted an assistantship in the Department of Entomology at the Maryland Agricultural College. Gahan received a master's degree in Entomology from the Maryland Agricultural College in 1906 and remained in the Department of Entomology as Assistant Entomologist until 1913. In 1913, he accepted an appointment as Assistant Entomologist in the Division of Cereal and Forage Insect Investigations of the U. S. Bureau of Entomology, with assignment at the National Museum in Washington. Gahan remained at the U. S. Bureau of Entomology, eventually changing appointment to the Bureau of Entomology and Plant Quarantine. He retired in 1951.
During the early years of his appointment at the U. S. Bureau of Entomology, Gahan published on a wide variety of entomological subjects, such as the taxonomy of the Ichneumonidae, Braconidae, and Proctotrupoidea as well as the Chalcidoidea. He eventually specialized in study of the Chalcidoidea, one of the largest groups of parasitoid wasps. Among the more significant of his published contributions were an exhaustive study of the serphoid and chalcidoid parasites of the Hessian fly (1933) and a precise work on the type species of the genera of the Chalcidoidea (1922).
Gahan married Emily Bonnet on September 30, 1908. The couple lived on Berwyn Road in College Park, Maryland. He was active in civic affairs, serving for many years as president of the Home and School Association of the Berwyn Elementary School and an election supervisor; he was also an active member of the Berwyn Citizens Association. They had two children, James and Winifred. Gahan's sister, Winifred E. Gahan, was also connected to the University of Maryland, working for the Extension Service office for thirty-four years, and retiring in 1953. Arthur B. Gahan died on May 23, 1960 at the age of seventy-nine.
James B. (Bonnet) Gahan was born on July 19, 1909. His degrees from the University of Maryland included a B. S. degree, conferred in 1930, and an M. S., in 1932. He followed in his father's footsteps and became an entomologist; his first job was with the Bureau of Entomology and Plant Quarantine, assisting in a search for new insecticides to control the codling moth carpocapsa pomella. In 1937, he moved to Sanford, Florida, and, in 1943, he joined the staff of a laboratory operated by the Division of Insects Affecting Man and Animals, Bureau of Entomology and Plant Quarantine, U. S. Department of Agriculture, and the Office of Scientific Development that was working on insect-born diseases plaguing the U. S. Armed Forces during World War II.
James married Margaret Horn in 1938, and she traveled with him on various assignments in Mexico and Cairo, Egypt. James Gahan then returned to Florida to serve as the project leader of the Area Control and Premises Treatment Sections of the Insects Affecting Man and Animals Laboratory, where he directed the insecticide testing program aimed at controlling disease-carrying insects.
James Gahan was a member of the Sigma Xi fraternity, the Kiwanis Club, the American Camellia Society, and the Gainesville Camellia Society, serving as president of the latter for two years. He died on August 22, 1996, in Gainesville, Florida, at the age of eighty-seven.
Winifred Gahan was born on September 14, 1910. She was a 1931 graduate of the University of Maryland in the field of Home Economics. Winifred continued her education at Strayer College, where she learned typing and shorthand. She worked in the District of Columbia Public School System, Anacostia High School, and subsequently for the U. S. Department of Agriculture.
Winifred was most active in public service and church communities. Her involvement in the Red Cross, Blood Bank, and other civic organizations earned her the title of "Prince Georgian of the Year" in 1993. She was a lifelong member of Berwyn Presbyterian Church and was the Superintendent of its Kindergarten Department for forty-two years. In March 1997, the Presbyterian Women honored her for her contributions and services. Winifred died on November 6, 2002, at the age of ninety-two.
In 1981, James B. Gahan, Margaret Gahan, and Winifred Gahan established the Gahan Scholarship Fund, a graduate-level fellowship in honor of their father, in the Department of Entomology at the University of Maryland. In 1986, the Gahans increased their contributions, establishing the Gahan Regents Fellowship, the first Regents Fellowship at the university. The fund continues to support fellowships in the Department of Entomology.