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Harry  James Gabriel

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“Harry was such a sweet man. He was always kind and polite. This is very sad. ”
1 of 14 | Posted by: Phebe Gaines - Pensacola, FL

“We loved tailgating with Harry at the LSU Football games for the last 20 plus years. Never met a kinder soul. Thank God he is no longer in pain. ...Read More »
2 of 14 | Posted by: Barry Taillon - Saint Amant, LA

“My condolences to the family. John, it seemed only yesterday I was going to my leukemia appt at M D Anderson when I saw you in the waiting room and...Read More »
3 of 14 | Posted by: Jose Mata - New Iberia, LA

“We are saddened by the loss of Harry but rejoice in a life well lived. We have good memories of Harry and his family at First Presbyterian Church in...Read More »
4 of 14 | Posted by: Patricia and Toby Flint - LA

“Harry was an Angel on earth and now an Angel for eternity in heaven, he will be missed by everyone! ”
5 of 14 | Posted by: Sandy Dupree - Baton Rouge, LA

“We met darling Harry through our good friends Maria and Trudy. We spent many a fun evening having dinner with the group at his condo at Perdido Key....Read More »
6 of 14 | Posted by: Ann M. Honeycutt - Pensacola, FL

“Our River Ranch Subdivision was blessed to have Harry as a very special neighbor -- he will be missed. Prayers for Harry and his family -- may his...Read More »
7 of 14 | Posted by: Carol Ott - Ponchatoula, LA

“Lynn, John and Bob,I am so sorry for your loss. I have many fond memories of your family in our old Ponchatoula neighborhood. I remember little Harry...Read More »
8 of 14 | Posted by: Catherine Fournet Baker - FL

“Many tears have been shed over earth’s loss of a great soul. Thankful now that in God’s place Harry’s broken body is eternally...Read More »
9 of 14 | Posted by: Joyce Thompson - Dallas, TX

“Harry did a landscaping job for us while he was a student at LSU. We were impressed with his naturalist approach emphasizing native Louisiana plants...Read More »
10 of 14 | Posted by: Richard Thompson - Geismar, LA

“Harry was my oldest friend. I will sorely miss him and keep the Gabriel family in my heart as you move forward without him. ”
11 of 14 | Posted by: Terri Gregory - Abita Springs, LA

“We will miss you deeply Harry.We spent many wonderful hours in Central America together. It was a treasure to know you ”
12 of 14 | Posted by: John and Mary Margaret Hevron - LA

“Oh so sorry for your sad sad loss. In spite of the sadness there are many good memories to cherish always. Our prayers are with you. ”
13 of 14 | Posted by: Gordon Anderson - Hammond

“May the Gabriel Family find comfort from the many prayers from family and friends. His great legacy of the Twin Steeples Creative Arts Center in...Read More »
14 of 14 | Posted by: Candace Cogan - The Woodlands, TX

Harry James Gabriel
1/9/1959 - 3/18/2021

Harry James Gabriel, beloved son, brother, uncle, world traveler, skier, scuba diver, mission trip volunteer, marathon runner, artist, craftsman, landscaper, businessman, developer and most recently, philanthropist, ended his valiant 18-year battle with acute leukemia on March 18 at M.D. Anderson Cancer Center in Houston, Texas. He lived each day of his 62 years with focused purpose up until his final conscious hours at M.D. Anderson, Houston, Texas.

As the youngest son of four children born to Harry and Audrey Gabriel, of Ponchatoula, Louisiana, the younger Harry led an adventurous, creative, and generous life both before and after his diagnosis of acute leukemia at the age of 44.

Harry remained a lifelong resident of Ponchatoula, with the exception of his years in Baton Rouge where he received his bachelor of landscape architecture degree from LSU. As an active member of the Community Harry earned Eagle Rank in The Boy Scouts of America; was a lifelong supporter of LSU football; Vice President of Gabriel Building Supply Co., Inc.; President, Vice President, and Treasurer of Kiwanis Club of Ponchatoula; Advisor for Ponchatoula High School Key Club; President of Westminster Place Apartments; Head of the Diaconate at First Presbyterian Church, Hammond; Deacon at First Presbyterian Church of Ponchatoula; and Founder and President of Twin Steeples Creative Arts Center.

For sixteen years, Harry was part of The Trinity Medical Mission to Nicaragua and Honduras. Each year a team of young physicians, dentists, nurses, pharmacists, and veterinarians traveled with lay volunteers to the poorest areas of Latin America, where they are introduced to "service of the poor" at an early stage of their career. Harry became a beloved member of a close and faithful Community that made these annual trips. Stories of Harry "pulling teeth" were among his duties to those who desperately needed relief.

In 2003 Harry's life changed after being diagnosed with Acute Leukemia. He considered himself fortunate that his oldest brother John, lived near the Texas Medical Center in Houston, giving him an outpost to the world class team of medical professionals at M.D. Anderson, who masterminded his treatment through two bone marrow transplants, defying odds and prolonging his life.

Despite Harry's immediate family's willingness, none proved to be a bone marrow match. A national search for the ideal candidate led to Andrea (Andi) Fry, of Coshocton, Ohio. Not only did she agree to the intensive transplant process for Harry, who was a stranger to her in 2005, when Harry needed a second one, she made the more difficult decision to donate a second time in 2011. There is no adequate way to thank Andi and her family for such a personal sacrificial gift on Harry's behalf. Andi's simple act of putting her name on a donor list, then being available and willing to donate twice kept Harry's precious life going 15 more years. Harry encouraged everyone to do the same at Be The Match ( <>).

Most recently during the 2020-21 quarantining, Harry turned to the role of philanthropist, on a project called "Twin Steeples Creative Arts Center." For over 100 years, a single block bounded by East Oak, South Fifth, East Pine, and South Fourth Streets held two similar looking churches, one Presbyterian, built in 1879, that the Gabriel family attended in early years, and one, originally Lutheran, built in 1901 facing away from each other as if the other didn't exist.

The Lutheran church had become a private residence when it went up for sale in 2019. Harry arranged to purchase the church, thinking he would turn it into a creative arts center. But his brother John, encouraged him to pursue a more creative, though much more daunting solution, harkening back to his college thesis in architecture school; to move the two churches to face each other, requiring more or less a journey of faith as to how this might be accomplished.

The first person Harry contacted was Kim Zabbia, a dynamic entrepreneurial force in the Ponchatoula Community, retired Ponchatoula High School art teacher, entrepreneur and renowned artist in her own right, and wife of Ponchatoula mayor Bob Zabbia. Then, the new young pastor, Aaron Gordon of First Presbyterian Church, which meets in a newer building adjacent to the original church.

Aaron is charged with the mission to look for creative solutions to keep this congregation of 60 going. Aaron, himself a drummer, and guitar player, had an appreciation for the acoustics of the original church and was also (independently of Harry) considering how to repurpose it for the arts Community.

After meeting with Harry, Aaron was able to persuade the congregation to sell the building and some land to the Twin Steeples Creative Arts Center with no strings attached.

Kim encouraged Harry to move quickly to get the two churches moved to face each other, signaling to the Community that this project was actually happening. Harry scheduled the big moving day, an event itself, for Thursday, January 21st.

Unfortunately, what he thought was a brief trip to M.D. Anderson turned into the news that the cancer was no longer in remission. He was forced to watch the big moving event via FaceTime from his hospital bed in Houston.

Harry and a compassionate team of medical professionals battled for nearly two months, under Covid-19 Protocol, including the epic Texas freeze in February, with rarely allowed visitation from his brother John, to the day of his final rest.

Harry is survived by his mother Audrey Gabriel, sister Lynn Gabriel Knight and her husband Larry Knight, brother John Gabriel, brother Bob Gabriel and his wife Stacie King Gabriel, nieces and nephews: Jodie Knight Thompson and Clay Thompson, Stacy Knight Adams, Will Knight, Laura Gabriel Gentile and Andy Gentile, Julia Gabriel Weber and Morgan Weber, Jasmin Sziber Wild and J.D. Wild, Devin Gabriel and Chanc Kinchen, many grand nieces and nephews, and extended family. Additionally, he is survived by the Twin Steeples Creative Arts Center (his baby), along with its newly appointed Board members, and countless enthusiastic Community members who have already begun to rally behind this tremendous gift to their Community.

Services will