Dave Gabriele, who served as Environmental Services manager with West Hartford’s Department of Public Works before his recent retirement, passed away Friday.
By Ronni Newton
The Town of West Hartford, family, and friends, are mourning the loss Friday of Dave Gabriele, a life-long West Hartford resident who passed away at the age of 62.
Gabrielle was born on Nov. 11, 1955, and died unexpectedly in his sleep on June 16, 2017.
Gabriele began his tenure with the Town of West Hartford on Oct. 27, 1974, and spent more than 41 years working in various roles within the Department of Public Works including grounds and athletic facilities maintenance, street maintenance, sanitation, and recycling education.
He was a 1973 graduate of Conard High School, and according to his Facebook page, went to the “University of Hard Knocks.”
“He exemplified the public works profession by his dedication and love for the Town of West Hartford, especially his love for his neighborhood of Elmwood. He always made sure Elmwood received the attention it deserved and more,” Director of Public Works John Phillips said.
“He was Elmwood’s biggest fan. Dave had so much knowledge about the history of West Hartford, especially Elmwood, and could easily identify old photos of buildings, businesses, and events,” said West Hartford Public Relations Specialist Renée McCue in an email. “He was loved by many,” she said.
Gabriele spent 41 winters “ensuring this town was as safe as possible from snow and ice, and finished his career by managing our waste and recycling programs where he become passionate about ‘Reduce, Recycle and Reuse,'” Phillips said.
Gabriele retired on Dec. 21, 2015, but at that time Public Works had a critical vacancy for a streets manager position.
“With winter bearing down on us, Dave was the only person I could count to step in and manage our snow and ice operations from January to April 2016. And boy did we get a lot of snow in a short amount of time, but Dave was outstanding. So it was actually 42 winters,” said Phillips.
“He loved the outdoors, barbecues, golfing, biking, fishing – and especially boating. Family outings on the water were always his favorite and the fish always tasted awesome,” said Bob Kush, Gabriele’s brother-in-law.
“He took my son Colin on his boat when he was only 6 months old! ‘Have to get his sea legs early,’ he said. “He will be missed,” Kush said.
Phillips said he had just had dinner with Gabriele a few months ago. “You take it for granted. The news just shell-shocked all of us at Public Works.”
Phillips said that Gabriele knew a lot of people in this town, touched a lot of lives through his many interests – which included Conard’s wrestling program.
“Dave loved this town. If West Hartford had a color it would be the color of his blood,” Phillips said.
“He was a valued member of the West Hartford Department of Public Works family and I am without words on how much I will miss his friendship. He taught me what it meant to do things right for West Hartford,” said Phillips.
Gabriele is survived by his wife of 34 years, Barbara, who works in the Information Technology Department for West Hartford Public Schools, his son Peter, and daughter Blair.
Information regarding funeral arrangements will be provided once it is available.