Robert F. Gabel, OFM
1924 – 1998
Fr. Robert Gabel, OFM, was born June 12, 1924 in Kingston, Pa., and raised in Larksville. He studied three years at St. Joseph’s Seraphic Seminary, Callicoon, N.Y., before being received into the Order in 1945 at the novitiate at St. Bonaventure Friary, Paterson, N.J. He made his solemn profession in 1949 and was ordained in 1951.
He served at only two institutions during his long ministry as a teacher: Siena College, Loudonville, N.Y., and Bishop Timon High School, Buffalo, N.Y. The first six years were at Siena, then Timon for three, and then back to Siena for 33 consecutive years. At the high school, he taught religion and was prefect of discipline. At the college level, his specialty was sociology, in which he had earned a master’s degree from St. Bonaventure University, Allegany, N.Y., and did further graduate studies at the University of Michigan, Syracuse University and Rutgers University.
Fr. Robert eventually became associate professor and chairman of the sociology department at Siena. Beyond the classroom, he developed various outlets for his many talents, interests and high levels of energy. Over the years, he served as spiritual director of the college, director of the campus Secular Franciscans, a pre-Cana activist and, later on, a drug and alcohol counselor. Students, friars and others who knew him admired his affable, forthright manner and his willingness to share inner human experiences.
He retired from the classroom in 1993, but continued to reside at Siena, chiefly in a counseling role, until in 1995, when he transferred to Holy Name Friary in Ringwood, N.J. There he took on something of a renewed lease on life, becoming very active again as a drug and alcohol counselor. Siena College named him professor emeritus of sociology.
He died on Feb. 14, 1998 at Holy Name Friary. Fr. Robert was 73 years old, a professed friar for 51 years and a priest for 46 years.