1st Lt. Richard P. Gabriel, USMC, Retired
Richard Gabriel was a retired U.S. Marine Corps officer and Vietnam War veteran who was awarded a Purple Heart for wounds received in action. At a young age, this strong, physically imposing figure made it his mission to engage in life again after the amputation of his leg.
Who ever said, “Life is fair?” Certainly not Rich. Nor did he ever expect it to be. Knowing Rich meant understanding how a man who endured so much early in life could have such a calm demeanor, a pervasive serenity on his face, and a powerfully engaging smile. It was his wry sense of humor that seemed more justifiable, but no less treasured by everyone who made a point to listen to what he had to say.
Rich had come to terms with his misfortune and moved on without bitterness or anger. He embraced responsibility, appreciated life’s second chances, had integrity and was honest to a fault. His incomparable perspective on life helped him succeed in his most gratifying endeavor of all – being a dedicated husband to his wife, Anne, father to his five children, and a loyal son to his parents. Without a doubt, Rich right-fully earned his place as the most tremendous source of strength for his family, and as an inspiring example of humanity.
These words would surely make Rich uncomfortable. He didn’t believe in anything that hinted at sympathy or pity. Only a great soul has that capacity. Rich was that extraordinary. A true gentleman.