I met Dale Gabor ‘66 on the first day of school 1974. I was the epitome of the “wise fool” as I walked into his Latin II class on the third floor of the Main Building, and I had no idea that the man in front of the room would teach me so much more than that all of Gaul was divided into three parts or when to use the ablative absolute rather than a simple participle.
For sure, Dale fanned the flames of my love of the Classics - a love which led me to taking six years of Latin and four years of Greek during high school and college, but it was his theology class titled Christian Marriage that has had the most lasting impact on me as a husband and father. Of the many lessons from that class the one that made the biggest impact at the time was his telling us that couples who are dating and thinking of getting married should do things that husbands and wives do as a part of their daily routine - shopping, running errands, and any other seemingly unromantic activity.
I took his words very seriously, and in doing so was able to grow up in ways that paid off in high school and still pay off today. I spent a lot of time doing the usual “dating” things with my girlfriend - now wife - Ann, but the best memories that I have are from those dates where two young girls - Ann’s sisters Suzi and Julie - were passengers in the back seat. None of us will ever forget going to see the movie The Gnome Mobile and using empty raisin boxes as kazoos as we sang the title song from the film on the ride home. I was so enthusiastic that I started beeping the car horn in time with the tune. And then the horn got stuck. And wouldn’t get unstuck. Even after I turned the car off.
Without the advice of Dale Gabor, that story - which still gets told and laughed about at family gatherings - would never have happened, and I would never have had any similar experiences to look back on. Because of that lesson and so many more - as a teacher, as a mentor, as a friend, as an Athletic Director - Dale Gabor has shaped me in more ways than I can count.
In the final years before his retirement I loved to stop by his office and just chat. I would have some “real” reason to stop by, but after one minute of actual school business we would spend the next twenty minutes talking about everything from Notre Dame football to varieties of wine - on both of those topics, by the way, Dale was an expert.
As would be fitting, considering the theology class he taught in the 1970s, Dale was also an expert at being a husband and father. He so loved working with his wife Linda who is now the Chair of College Counseling, and it was a common sight to see them together on campus. Their constant presence at the weekly Friday morning Mass in the St. Mary of the Assumption Chapel always brought a smile to my face and reminded me that the only way to achieve a successful marriage is by putting Jesus, especially in the Eucharist, at the center of that relationship.
His love for and his pride in his children was palpable. He would light up when I would ask, “How are Stephen and Tricia?” and he would derive great joy in telling me about what they were doing. From their early days at Incarnate Word Academy, through their years at Saint Ignatius and Magnificat, and then at Georgetown and the College of the Holy Cross and on to adulthood, Dale would beam as he told these stories.
I was 14 years old when I met Dale Gabor, and 15 when I had him in the marriage class. I would not meet Mike Pennock ‘64 until the second semester of junior year, having been with Dale for theology during the first semester. Mike is the person who took me under his wing and prepared me to become a theology teacher, but the seed of teaching had already been sown by Dale Gabor.
Outside of class Dale and I would sometimes talk about different topics related to marriage. Not having yet acquired an adult sense of boundaries, I once asked about finances: Could a husband and father provide for his family on the salary of a Catholic high school teacher? Typical of Dale, he took my question in the spirit that it was asked and answered with complete honesty.
First, he told me what his salary was. Once I regained consciousness he then said that he would not trade working at his Alma Mater for anything else in the world. He concluded by telling me that if you marry the right person, then the two of you, as a united couple, with the help of God, can definitely make it work.
Dale, thank you for that conversation - a conversation that set the course for the rest of my life - and thank you for every other time you stopped what you were doing to have a chat with me. In your many roles both here at school with us and at home with your family you always made time for others. You were an exemplar of the highest degree.
The Romans would say, “Aeternum vale!”, “Farewell forever!” But you knew better, and you taught us by your life that the One in Whose presence you shall rest for the aeternum made it possible for the vale! to last only until we meet again.
Requiescat in pace, magnus amicus meus.
Click here for a tribute to Mr. Gabor, as well as wake and funeral information.