Longtime Santa Monica resident Bob Gabriel, a former City Council member, and board member and co-founder of the Santa Monica Historical Society Museum, has died. He was 84.
Gabriel, owner of ISU Bob Gabriel Insurance Company, died Thursday, December 13th, at the Santa Monica UCLA Medical Center after battling cancer.
A community leader in Santa Monica, Gabriel was a “strong voice” and he received numerous awards over the years, friends said.
“First of all, and most importantly, no matter what the issue was, Bob was always a gentleman,” said Santa Monica Mayor Herb Katz, who has known Gabriel for over 30 years. “He thought things out and would discuss them. I really liked him and will miss him very much.”
“All of us having the good fortune to serve as chair of the Santa Monica Chamber of Commerce try to measure up to Bob’s high standards of business and community leadership,” noted Tom Larmore, chairman of the Santa Monica Chamber of Commerce.
Hunter Jameson, chairman of the Santa Monica Nativity Scenes Committee, added that Gabriel had been a key supporter of the scenes since the 1950s.
“We will certainly miss his efforts and miss him,” Jameson said.
A native of Detroit, Gabriel grew up working in his father’s market. In the early 1940s, Gabriel studied at Alma College, where he participated in the Navy V-12 program and was co-captain of the football team. Afterwards he served in the U.S. Navy during World War II. He ended his active tour with a training post at the Santa Monica Airport.
In the winter of 1946, Gabriel married his wife Louise and they moved to California. In 1951, Gabriel was recalled to the Navy for the Korean conflict, spending 17 months of a two-year tour overseas in Japan and Korea.
In 1960, Gabriel and his wife opened Bob Gabriel Insurance Company at 23rd Street and Wilshire Boulevard in Santa Monica.
Gabriel loved Santa Monica and always praised the city to friends, relatives and even strangers whom he had just met, the family said. He was always fond of saying, “Santa Monica is the biggest ‘little city’ in the world with so much history.”
“We feel privileged to be living in Santa Monica. We fell in love with the city when we first came here from out-of-state and knew this was where we wanted to spend the rest of our lives,” he said.
Gabriel was proud of the work being done by the Santa Monica Historical Society Museum to preserve the city’s treasures for future generations. The museum, will relocate to new headquarters at 1350 Seventh St. next year.
Gabriel’s various honors include the Community Service Award from the Lions Club, the first “William S. Mortensen” award from the Santa Monica-UCLA Medical Center and the Kiwanis Club’s Community Service Award.
He also was the recipient of the Santa Monica Realtor Citizen of the Year Award, the National Conference of Christians and Jews Humanitarian Award, the Boys Club of America’s Medallion for Unusually Devoted Service to Youth, the Service Award from the Salvation Army and recognition from the Rotary International Foundation.
In addition, Gabriel was actively involved in charities and nonprofit organizations and served as president of the Boys & Girls Club of Santa Monica and the Santa Monica Chamber of Commerce, and was chairman of the Santa Monica Hospital Board of Trustees.
He was also a member of the Santa Monica College Advisory Board and served on committees for the Santa Monica-Malibu Unified School District. Gabriel served as chair of the Santa Monica Convention and Visitors Bureau and was president of the board of St. Nicholas Cathedral.
Gabriel is survived by his wife of 60 years, Louise; their two daughters, Susan Potter and Sharyl Szydlik; a son, Robb; grandsons Patrick and Bryan Potter and Michael Szydlik; and his brother, Richard.
In lieu of flowers, contributions may be made in Gabriel’s memory to the Santa Monica Historical Society Museum, 1539 Euclid St., Santa Monica 90404. Information, (310) 395-2290, or www.santamonicahistory.org/.
An evening Mass is scheduled at 7:30 p.m. Friday, December 28th, at St. Nicholas Cathedral, 2300 W. Third St., Los Angeles, and a memorial service will be held at 10 a.m. Saturday, December 29th, at St. Monica Church, 725 California Ave., Santa Monica. followed by burial at Woodlawn Cemetery in Santa Monica.