Former Hollister resident Donald Louis “Don” Gabriel of Eugene, OR, died Sunday, July 24,2011, following a short illness. He was 91.
Mr. Gabriel was born on July 6, 1920, in Ft. Fairfield, ME, to Joseph and Alice Gabriel. He and his wife, Margaret “Margy,” were married on July 7, 1951, at Mission San Juan Bautista.
Mr. Gabriel was a graduate of San Benito High School and Stanford University. Upon receiving his bachelor’s degree, Mr. Gabriel enlisted in the Navy, where he served as a communications officer for three-and-one-half years. He was involved in the capture of a Nazi U-boat off the coast of Nova Scotia, the D-Day invasion of Omaha Beach, the invasion of southern France, and the Battle for Okinawa, where his ship was hit by a kamikaze.
After the war, Mr. Gabriel returned to Hollister and joined the family business, Hollister Ice and Cold Storage Co. He moved for a time to Salinas, and it was there that he met his future wife, Margy. Mr. Gabriel and his brother, Mike, assumed ownership of Hollister Ice and Cold Storage, and operated it jointly until they sold it in 1986.
Among his many interests, he enjoyed travel, sports, ballet, fishing, woodworking, and time with his family. He was a dedicated fan of Stanford athletics, the San Francisco Giants and Little League baseball. He is remembered for his optimism, love for a geedunk, people and their stories, and his frequent laughter.
Mr. Gabriel was active in Rotary International, both in Hollister and Eugene. He also served in local politics in Salinas and Hollister. He served two terms on the Hollister City Council, and one term as mayor. He was a Salinas and Hollister planning commissioner and the member at large of the San Benito Local Agency Formation Commission for 22 years.
Mr. and Mrs. Gabriel moved to Eugene in the fall of 2003.
In addition to his wife of 60 years, Mr. Gabriel is survived by six children, Dee Gabriel Eckhardt (Gene) of Olympia, WA; Joe Gabriel (Nancy) of Yakima, WA; Anne Gabriel Paxton (Craig) of San Francisco; Mary Paxton (Mark) of Hollister; Tony Gabriel of Redwood City; and Paul Gabriel of San Francisco; his brother Mike Gabriel (Betty) of Hollister; his grandchildren, Erin Paxton, Felice Gabriel, Karl Eckhardt, Maura Paxton, Maida Paxton, Rose Paxton, and Josh Gabriel; nieces Connie Wilson (Tom), and Jade Sandifer (Gary); and nephew Mitch Gabriel.
Plans for a local celebration of Mr. Gabriel’s life are pending.
Memorial contributions are preferred to the Hollister Rotary Foundation or the Community Foundation for San Benito County.