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Robert Paul Gabrielsky

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Robert Paul Gabrielsky

Robert Paul Gabrielsky, known to all as Gabe, died in his adoptive home of Los Angeles, Nov. 19 of 2020. He was 77 years old. Gabe was born March 1, 1943, in Camden, N.J., and grew up in Haddonfield, N.J. He was the only child of Elizabeth Bartholomay and Irving Gabrielsky.

Gabe was a left political activist beginning in the 1960s civil rights movement and the new left anti-war movement. He was active in his trade union and a committed supporter of the labor movement. He was a conscientious objector during the Vietnam War. Gabe was an American labor historian and curated the “Shifting Gears” program in North Adams, Mass., in the early 1990s under the auspices of  the Massachusetts Foundations for Humanities and Public Policy. He identified as a democratic socialist and avidly participated in the political discourse of the left political movement throughout his life.

For many years he was active in the Campaign for Peace and Democracy in New York City and Peace Activists East and West in western Massachusetts. These organizations brought together human rights and peace activists from Eastern Europe, the United States, Latin America and the Middle East in discourse and activism regarding a truly democratic foreign policy. In more recent years he was active in Occupy Wall Street, the Black Lives Matter movement, and was a member of the Democratic Socialists of America Los Angeles.

An optimist, humanitarian and an internationalist, Gabe never lost faith in the ability of ordinary people to act in solidarity for the goals of peace, equality, social justice and environmental sustainability. He believed that peace and human rights were intrinsically linked. He had particular enthusiasm and belief in young people and was a mentor for many young activists.

Gabe also had a long-standing great love for and encyclopedic knowledge of jazz music, the theater and classic American film, which he shared with family and friends. He archived jazz radio host Ralph Berton’s jazz collection at the Institute of Jazz Studies, Rutgers University, after Berton’s death. Gabe was never at a loss for words and conversations with him were always lively with analysis and historical detail.

Gabe was a loving father to his children, Terry and John Hempfling, of Minneapolis, Minn., and Yellow Springs, respectively, and grandfather to Rocket and Imogene Cowperthwaite, also of Yellow Springs. Gabe and the mother of his children, Judith Hempfling, co-parented their children and were close friends for the 40 years they knew one another. Jane McCabe, Gabe’s housemate for the eight years he lived in Los Angeles, was a loving and much appreciated friend. Gabe had many, many friends and extended family across the country and especially in the New York City/ New Jersey area, where he lived much of his life until Hurricane Sandy destroyed his home there in 2012. He then moved to Los Angeles, where he was able to make many new friends and join a new community of friends and activists.


One Response to “Robert Paul Gabrielsky”

  1. Maynard Seider says:

    Condolences to Gabe’s family and friends. I met Gabe in the 1980s when he worked on the “Shifting Gears” project in North Adams and I taught at the state college there. We had a mutual friend in Stan Weir and, like Stan, Gabe was always interested and respectful of the rank and file, the working class. He asked good questions to the workers he interviewed for the project which led to important, valuable description and analysis of the workplace at Sprague Electric. Besides his own writing about Sprague, Gabe wrote, directed and produced a film on the people who worked at Sprague and even those who labored in those same buildings during an earlier era, at Arnold Print Works. In later years I would see Gabe at Left Forum. He always had something interesting to say, often with humor, and was very proud of and devoted to his children. May he rest in peace and the peace and justice that he cared so much about, and worked for, become a reality before too long.

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