Eugene Joseph Gabianelli
Eugene Joseph Gabianelli passed away peacefully at age 90 in St. Louis on Friday, July 29, 2022. He was the beloved husband of Nancy Mack Gabianelli.
Born on April 3, 1932 in Derby, Connecticut to Rose and Eugene Gabianelli, he lived a joyful American dream. He was raised in a multigenerational home which often had an aromatic lasagna in the oven. Italian was spoken among adults, but never to children, and Zinfandel was made in the basement. Education was paramount for “Sonny” and his two sisters, who became the first generation in the family to attend college. Always an avid reader and sportsman, he excelled academically and on the gridiron at Ansonia High School, graduating in 1949. After receiving multiple scholarship offers, he enrolled at Dartmouth College, where he earned a Bachelors in English in 1953 and an MBA from Amos Tuck School of Business in 1954. He was a two-way starter on the football team and active in the Rugby Club and Psi U fraternity.
After college, Gene served two years in the U.S. Army, first at Fort Dix in New Jersey and later in Fairbanks, Alaska. At Fort Dix, he played two football games per week, one for the military base and one for a local semipro team. Although contacted by the Philadelphia Eagles, he chose to attend University of Michigan Law School and graduated in 1958. In Ann Arbor, he met the love of his life, Nancy Louise Mack, a fine arts graduate student from Saginaw, Michigan. They married in September 1958 and remained married for the next 64 years. Out of law school he joined the law firm Allen and Allen in St. Louis, which later became Lewis Rice Tucker Allen and Chubb. During 46 years in estate planning at Lewis Rice, Gene mentored many fine young attorneys, ran the department for years, and served as trusted advisor and friend to his clients.
He became very active in the community, serving as general counsel for the St. Louis Community Foundation from 1989-1998 and Board Chair from 1997-1999. He enjoyed sitting as Municipal Judge in Ladue for many years. He was a loyal fan of the football and baseball Cardinals and the St. Louis Blues. He enjoyed the thrill of competition and companionship during many years of participation in rugby, fast-pitch softball, squash, distance cycling, skiing (which he began at age 49), tennis, and eventually bridge. “Gabby’s” ski trips with college buddies and families who became known as “The Aspen Has Beens” are a grand tradition continuing to this day. After bouncing off the windshield of a pickup truck during a bike ride at age 52, he ended his cycling career out of concern for other vehicles.
He was always grateful for his Dartmouth education and passionately believed in equal opportunity for education and employment. He proudly served on the Dartmouth Alumni Council when it first chose to admit women, interviewed countless applicants, and served as the District Enrollment Director for the St. Louis area for several years. Later, Gene established the Gabianelli Family Scholarship at Dartmouth.
An avid fisherman, Gene tied flies weekly with a group of friends and fished around the globe, including in the Dartmouth Grant, in Patagonia, and above the Arctic Circle. “Gino” loved all things Italian, whether cooking coccioli alla carbonara at home, befriending cousins in Fano, Italy, or studying Italian in night class. He arranged several epic trips to Fano and forged a bond which will endure for generations. Gene’s joyful and loving curiosity about the people in his life infected all of these adventures, and even his work. His clients and travel companions became his lifelong friends.
Gene was at heart a family man. His ethical and moral compass was without equal and influenced all around him. He was adored by his three children who grew up in Brentwood and Ladue, Missouri. The family enjoyed countless Ozark River canoe trips and vacations to Stony Lake in Michigan. Known as “Nonno” to his grandchildren, he was always loving, whether watching sports games, leading canoe trips, cooking Thanksgiving turkeys, or whipping up pasta puttanesca.
Gene is preceded in death by his parents, sister Norma Le Febvre, and brother in-law Al Le Febvre. He is survived by his sister Linda Gabianelli of Bloomfield, Connecticut, wife Nancy (née Mack) Gabianelli, children Gino (Nancy) of Atlanta, Georgia, Nina of Aspen, Colorado, and David (Diane) of San Francisco, California. He will be dearly missed by six grandchildren: Joey, Anna, John, Garrett, Jason, and Christopher, and by nieces and nephews: Gene, Neal, Alison, Nicole, and Michelle.
Nonno’s grip will endure in the Gabianelli family and his circle of friends forever, from the United States to the coast of the Adriatic Sea in Fano, Italy.
Services: A Celebration of Life will be held on Saturday, October 29 at Pastaria, 7734 Forsyth Blvd., St. Louis, MO 63105 from 12:30 – 3:30 p.m.
In lieu of flowers, please donate to The St. Louis Community Foundation at:
St. Louis Community Foundation
#2 Oak Knoll Park
St. Louis, MO 63105