Free-spirited and independent, Dave Gabriel was willing to try anything at least once! Although his adventurous spirit led to the occasional mishap, Dave always seemed to land on his feet – he was like a “cat with nine lives.” He had a generous heart, and kept everyone in good spirits with his jokes and sarcastic sense of humor. A loyal friend and a good father, Dave took care to pass his life lessons on to his children: “learn from my mistakes, live to your potential, and be modest.” Dave’s kindness, energy, and determination will live on in the hearts and memories of all those whose lives he touched; he was deeply loved, and will be deeply missed.
1963 was a year of tragedy and hope, a year that saw both the assassination of President John F. Kennedy and the historic delivery of Martin Luther King Jr.’s “I Have a Dream” speech. David was born in the midst of this tumultuous year, on February 27, 1963, and shared his birth year with the release of the first Beatles album, the invention of instant replay, and the introduction of the ZIP code system.
Dave was the first-born child of proud parents Angelo and Patricia (Kordela) Gabriel. The Gabriel family lived in Comstock, Michigan, where Dave spent a happy and active childhood. Young Dave loved playing sports of all kinds, and spent countless hours with his dad working on the finer points of being a receiver. Those hours paid off in high school, where Dave was #82 on the Comstock football team. He played receiver, and was once featured in the Gazette as the prep star of the week. Comstock fielded a strong football team, and in 1980 they were undefeated for the entire season! Despite all the time he spent on the football field, Dave didn’t let his grades slump – he was a quick learner, and found that schoolwork came easily for him.
After graduating from Comstock High School in 1981, Dave went on to Kalamazoo Valley Community College for a short time. Before long, however, he decided to leave the campus behind and try his luck in the real world. He eventually became an ironworker, and was proud to be part of projects including the Bronson Hospital and Fire Keepers Casino.
Dave married Roberta Janssen on October 29, 1988. Although their marriage would ultimately end in divorce, Dave became the proud father of two wonderful children, Erin and Jake (known to Dave as “Kiddo” and “Weasel”). He was a great father, and loved spending time with his kids. Dave often took the kids bowling and swimming (he enjoyed throwing them in the pool), and taught Jake how to play football. Dave’s family was completed by a series of pets – an animal lover with a big heart, Dave could never say “no” to any of the strays or animals that the kids brought home.
In his free time, Dave enjoyed cheering on his favorite sports teams – the Pittsburgh Steelers, U of M Wolverines, and Notre Dame, to name a few. He also loved the outdoors, and could often be spotted taking his dogs on long walks outside.
Outgoing and fun loving, Dave got along well with everyone, and was a welcome addition to any gathering. He did have a competitive side, however, which came out when he was playing Risk or card games! He enjoyed barbequing for friends and family, and dreamed of one day going to Maine for a 3-pound lobster dinner. Closer to home, Dave was an avid reader, and a fan of classic rock such as Lynyrd Skynyrd, Creed, and Kiss.
Sadly, for the last few months of his life, Dave has endured great pain. He was released from his pain on October 3, and died with a smile on his lips.
Funny and sarcastic, big-hearted and independent, Dave was a loving brother and son, a devoted father, and a loyal friend. He will be deeply missed and lovingly remembered by his many friends and family members, including those in Sault Ste Marie.
David “Dave” Gabriel died on October 3, 2013, at the age of 50. Dave’s family includes his children, Erin and Jake; his parents, Angelo and Patricia; his brother, Greg; his good friend, Craig “Louie” Lewis; and several aunts, uncles and other relatives.
Services will be held at 2 p.m. on Tuesday at the Life Story Funeral Home,Betzler-Kalamazoo, 6080 Stadium Drive (375-2900). The family will receive friends for one hour prior to the service. Memorial contributions may be made to the Kalamazoo Humane Society. Please visit Dave’s personal memory page at www.lifestorynet.com, where you can sign his guest book or archive a favorite memory or photo.