Robert Angelo Gabriele Sr passed away on Oct. 19, at the age of 82 in Smithtown.
Robert was born on September 8, 1941 to Angelo Gabriele and Cecelia Aulisio, at Brooklyn College Hospital. The family lived at 924 Metropolitan Ave
., in Williamsburg, Brooklyn. Community life centered around the First Italian Baptist Church on Devoe St. where Robert sang in the children’s choir, performed in Holiday Pageants, rode bicycles each April for Anniversary Day Parade, and attended Sunday School regularly; the children played sports and games and watched movies in the Church gym. At around the age of 8, Robert auditioned to sing in the boys choir of the St. James Episcopal Church located at 71st and Madison Ave in Manhattan, travelling via subway to Manhattan each Tuesday and Thursday for rehearsals and again for Sunday Services until the age of around 12. He’d occasionally take his lunch breaks at the nearby Boat pond in Central Park at 72nd St. with a model sailboat. During the summers, he enjoyed attending the Church sponsored Camp Pequot at Lake Stahahe near Harriman State Park.
Throughout his childhood in the 1940s through 1950s, Robert always enjoyed building wooden models, from boats to flying airplanes, and playing with Lionel trains. His father Angelo began giving him violin lessons probably around the age of 6 or 7 on a children’s violin. He attended grade school at P.S.23, just west of Graham Ave. on Metropolitan. Throughout the 1940s, the family spent many summers at Wildwood State Park in Wading River, NY. Angelo would set the family up out at the campsite, and commute on weekends. Later, summer vacations would include camping trips to Lake George, Treman State Park/Buttermilk Falls near Ithaca.
In March of 1952, when Robert was 10, the family moved to 91-09 187 St
. in Hollis, Queens which Robert considered the country, into a home purchased and renovated by Angelo. He became a bicycle newspaper carrier for the L.I. Press, delivering each weekday afternoon and early Sundays. The family attended the Hollis Methodist Church where Robert was confirmed, attended Sunday School, and teen gatherings. He graduated P.S. 35 (The Woodhull School) in 1955.
During the summers of 1956 thru 1958, he worked on the kitchen staff at Royal Ambassadors Boys Camp in Ocean Park, Maine, first as a dishwasher and from the second year onward as second cook. He also took lifesaving courses while here and attained a lifesaving certificate. Throughout the late 1950’s thru 1965, Robert and the family were very active in fishing and boating. He especially loved to spend time on, and work on, the family’s boats: initially a 14 foot boat, no larger than a rowboat where the family would spend an entire day fishing, and later from, 1960-1965, a 1940 25’ Chris Craft cruiser, a boat he essentially rebuilt and where ‘we could actually stand up without tipping over.’ His Mother Cecelia was always first ‘with a line in the water.’
He attended Jamaica High School from 1955-1959. Robert was very active with the school orchestra; he excelled with the violin, taught to him in childhood by his father, achieving the seat of Concert Master in his Senior year. After graduating in 1959, he joined his father playing for the Queens Symphony Orchestra, playing from 1960 until 1969; recordings of their concerts made by his wife Susan still survive.
Robert attended Queens College paying for his own tuition by selling women’s shoes. He graduated in 1964 with a degree in Economics and Marketing. Robert’s first and only job after college was with the S. C. Johnson Company. He began as a Sales Rep, eventually being promoted to District Manager and finally Corporate Sales Manager. He retired in 2004, after 39 years with the company.
In 1965, Robert was invited to become a wedding party member thru a mutual friend, where he met his future wife Susan Rothberg. They were engaged in January, 1968 and married on September 29, 1968 at the Bayside Methodist Church on Bell Blvd. in Bayside, Queens, with the reception following held at the Huntington Townhouse. The couple honeymooned at the Plantation Inn in Jamaica, St Thomas (where they purchased their fine crystal) and St. Croix at the Bucaneer. The couple looked forward to moving into their home being built in St. James, N.Y. It would be April 1969 before they could move in. The family quickly grew with the birth of Lynne Marie, born 1969, followed by Christine Ann in 1971, Robert Angelo Jr. in 1972, Michael Vincent 1974, and Jeanine Angela in 1977.
Throughout the years, the family enjoyed going to various north and south shores beaches, boating and fishing on Great South Bay out of Oakdale, and later Long Island Sound. He joined sons Robert and Michael on numerous boy scout trips. In 1983, they purchased a ski home in Mount Snow, Vermont and spent many weekends skiing or spending summer vacations in Vermont. In 1998, Robert and Susan enjoyed trips to London, England and Rome, Florence, and Venice in Italy, and later in 2000, to Paris and Normandy in France. Robert was also early in the adoption wave of computers and video cameras, capturing precious family moments and holidays on video long before they were mainstream. Like his father, and using the skills he learned from him, he enjoyed working in his workshop as well as tending to projects and repairs around the house. Projects included deck and gazebo building, painting, masonry, landscaping, cabinetry, and finishing the basement. Also like his father, he carried on the tradition of building wooden rocking horses for the first grandchild born to each of his children. He enjoyed attending his grandchildrens’ activities and events, and being a part of all their milestones.
Robert is survived by his wife, Susan Joan Rothberg, his five children Lynne Sorrentino and husband Ron, Christine Meringolo and husband Brian, Robert Gabriele Jr. and wife Michele, Michael Gabriele and wife Christina, and Jeanine Prezioso and husband Adrian, along with 15 grandchildren: Emma, Sophia, and Anthony Sorrentino, Gabriella, Olivia, Ethan, and Charles Meringolo, Kenley Anne and Robert Angelo Gabriele III, Marianna, Lilly, and Julie Gabriele, and Nicolas, Vincent and Joseph Presiozo. Robert was preceded in death by his father Angelo Gabriele, and mother Cecilia. Robert is also survived by his brother Richard.
Visitiation Sunday October 29, at the Branch Funeral Home in Smithtown located at 190 East Main Street, Smithtown.