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George P. Gabriel
GEORGE P. GABRIEL passed away from us peacefully at Lehigh Valley Hospital in Allentown, PA on Wednesday, April 13, 2016. George was born in Scranton, PA on September 18, 1923 to proud parents, Peter and Evanthia Gabriel, both of whom immigrated to the United States from Greece through Ellis Island. George’s life was marked by service to others, foremost among them his family, his Country, the Greek community, both in the United States and Greece, his church, and the business he helped build, Atlas Minerals & Chemicals, Inc.
George was one of the many proud men and women who heeded the call to service in the Second World War, enlisting in the United States Army in 1942 at the age of 19. He crossed the Atlantic to England in 1943 and landed on Omaha Beach in Normandy, France with the Allied invasion force. He was a designated rifle expert and served as an army engineer in the European Theatre, constructing airfields and later serving in a reconnaissance unit of the 830th Aviation Engineer Battalion attached to Patton’s Third Army. Following V-Day, he was a military observer in Soviet occupied Germany. Like many of his generation, George served proudly but modestly, speaking rarely of his war experiences in the decades that followed.
After returning home, George resumed his education and obtained a degree in Chemical Engineering at Penn State University. During this time, he met his dear wife Evangeline. As she attests to this day, their relationship made true the adage “love at first sight” when the two met at a local Greek dance. Their bond was profound and enduring, spanning more than 68 years of marriage and bringing to the world three daughters, Virginia, Alice, and Renee, all of whom adored him. In the words of his daughters, he inspired the best in them and exhibited as much fortitude at home as he did in the war, never shying away from the demands of raising his girls, whether diapering them as babies or counseling them on life decisions from childhood well into their adult years.
George was also a man of many personal pursuits. He was an avid oil painter, a self-taught historian, an impressive ballroom dancer, and in his later years a builder of model ships and a grand doll-house for his beloved wife. George was also an unwavering optimist; he believed there was a solution to all problems and endeavored tirelessly at home and beyond in seeking them.
George’s professional and civic accomplishment were numerous. He joined Atlas Minerals & Chemicals Inc. in 1949 as a Construction Estimator and later ascended to the position of President and Chairman of the Board. He was a Professional Engineer in the fields of chemical, civil, and structural engineering. He was also an inventor, holding many patents for novel adhesives, corrosion resistant plastics, and chemicals for a wide range of industrial and commercial applications, an author of technical articles, and a lecturer on professional management and corrosion prevention. George also obtained an M.B.A. from Columbia University’s Graduate School of Business.
George was a life-long member of the American Hellenic Education Progressive Association (AHEPA) and served in a myriad of capacities ranging from president of the local chapter (Lehigh Chapter No. 60) to Supreme President of the national organization. He visited Greece many times representing the Greek-American community including in meetings with the Greek Prime Minister and other government officials. He is fondly remembered by his AHEPA brothers as a person who exemplified the ideals of the organization, serving with integrity, kindness, and loyalty. Notably, George’s service sustained well into his elder years. For 20 years, George spearheaded the effort to build a 48 unit HUD-financed senior home in Allentown. In honor of his tireless leadership, the building was named the George and Evangeline Gabriel AHEPA 60 Apartments, which stands as an enduring testament to these efforts. George was a faithful member of the St. Nicholas Greek Orthodox Cathedral and served in many roles on Church Council, including as President. He was named a Founder Knight of St. Andrew and Archon of the Ecumenical Patriarchate. His service earned him many honors including the Ellis Island Medal of Honor in 1995, commendation by the United States Congress, and invitation to the Whitehouse as a guest of President Reagan, who he revered.
George was adored and will be missed by many. He is survived by his loving wife Evangeline and sister Alice Dorian and family; his daughter Virginia and her husband Robert J. Vidoni; his daughter Alice and her partner Leslie Depew; his daughter Renee and her husband Francis X. Hanson; and his grandchildren Robert G. Vidoni and fiancé Beth Careyva, Gabriel Vidoni and wife Katherine (and soon-to-arrive great-grandchild due in May), and Taylor and Emily Hanson. Special thanks is due to his dear care-givers Pam, Cathy, and Maggie (and many others) who cared for him like family and without whom he never would have so thoroughly enjoyed the past few years, and to his loyal brothers at Lehigh Chapter No. 60 who provided devoted friendship and community up until his passing. He was our hero and we will miss him every day of our lives.
Services: viewing from 5 to 8 p.m. Friday (tonight) at Nicos C. Elias Funeral Home, 1227 W. Hamilton St., Allentown with AHEPA service at 7:30. Directions at www.eliasfuneralhome.com. Funeral service 11:00 a.m. Saturday at St. Nicholas Greek Orthodox Cathedral, 1607 W. Union Blvd., Bethlehem with another viewing from 10 to 11 in the church. Interment with military honors at Cedar Hill Memorial Park.
Contributions: to Lehigh Valley Hospice, 2166 S. 12th St., Allentown, Pa. 18103; or to Rebuild St. Nicholas Greek Orthodox Church at Ground Zero, Greek Orthodox Archdiocese - St. Nicholas Fund?8 East 79th Street? New York, NY 10075 Please make checks payable to: St. Nicholas Shrine Building Fund.