Richard P. “Dick” Gabel of Oregon, a coal dock worker who became a leader in the longshoremen’s union and who, during a long struggle with kidney cancer, served on the Toledo-Lucas County Port Authority board and Oregon school board, died Sunday in Hospice of Northwest Ohio, Perrysburg Township. He was 70.
While he resigned from the Oregon Board of Education last year at his doctors’ urging, he remained a port authority director until his death and, last week from his hospice bed, told board Chairman William Carroll he wanted to be at its next meeting. “That’s the kind of board member he was,” Mr. Carroll said. “Dick was a diligent port board member. He spent a lot of time helping us make the right decisions.”
County commissioners appointed him to an unexpired term on the port board in 2009 and to a full four-year term in 2010.
An alumnus of Oregon schools, he was appointed to a vacancy on the school board in 2008. He was elected to the board in 2009, served as its president, and was an advocate for electricity-generating turbines at schools and for mobile technology in classrooms.
He’d been a vice president of the International Longshoremen’s Association since 2007. The previous 14 years, as a district vice president, he bargained for pay and working conditions improvements at Great Lakes and Mississippi River ports. He was president of his home local, 1768, from 1982 to 1993, while continuing to load and unload vessels at the CSX Transportation coal and ore docks, where he worked since 1967.
He and his wife and another couple owned Deb’s Soft Kreme ice cream shop in East Toledo.
Born March 6, 1943, in Fremont to Rita and Paul Gabel, the family moved to Oregon in 1958.
He was a 1961 graduate of Clay High School. He joined the Air Force and was stationed in Dayton.
Surviving are his wife, Georgette, whom he married May 15, 1965; sons, Matt and Greg; daughter, Cheryl Vislay; sisters, Judy Scharff, Cathy Green, and Annette Nordlund, and 10 grandchildren.
Visitation is 2-8 p.m. Thursday and Friday in the Eggleston Meinert & Pavley Funeral Home, Oregon Chapel. A Rosary is to be recited at 5 p.m. Friday in the mortuary. Services are 10 a.m. Saturday in St. Ignatius Church, Oregon, where he was a member.
The family suggests tributes to kidney cancer research through the Cleveland Clinic Foundation or Hospice of Northwest Ohio.
— Mark Zaborney