Obituary: Gabriel Damico
Longtime CUSD teacher, principal, extensive traveler, volunteer
Gabriel Damico died Sunday, October 9 in Claremont. He was 97.
Gabe was a longtime resident, educator and volunteer in Claremont. He was born in Chester, Pennsylvania, the son of Giuseppe and Assunta Damico.
In 1963 he accepted a position teaching science at Claremont High School, moving his family to sunny Southern California. He would hold that job for 10 years before being appointed the principal of both La Puerta Middle School and Claremont High’s summer school program. In addition, he volunteered at Pomona Valley Hospital Medical Center, where he worked with cancer patients for 26 years.
He earned his Bachelor of Science degree in physical sciences from West Chester University in Chester County, Pennsylvania, and a graduate degree in educational administration from Philadelphia’s Temple University.
A lover of learning throughout his life, his studies included three summers at universities in Paris, and Florence and Sienna, Italy, where he studied language and the humanities. He was also awarded a number of National Science Foundation study grants to the Colorado School of Mines, Colgate University, San Diego State University, and Sacramento State University. Along with his love of science and nature, he also studied and practiced astronomy, photography, and painting in oils and watercolors.
The beginning of his long career in education was as a teacher at Smedley Junior High in Chester, Pennsylvania. There he met his beloved wife to be, Anne Natale, who was the principal’s secretary. They lived a long life of love, travel, adventure, and curiosity, sharing it all with their two children.
In the early years the family traveled across Canada coast to coast in their camper with dog in tow, north to Athabasca Glacier and Columbia Ice Fields. There were trips every summer traveling from state to state, enjoying so many interesting and beautiful places. Later the couple set out to discover the world beyond our borders. Those travels took them to places in almost all the continents.
“Gabe believed, ‘Little things mean the most and that kindness matters,’” his family shared. And that, “’You should always be yourself and do what you love and make the world a better place. Love of country is an exceptional feeling. We all feel blessed for having a land of our own in which we can celebrate this independence. There are countless sacrifices of our ancestors behind it. What we need is to be thankful for having an independent land and value its worth. We all have a patriot in ourselves, just keep it awake and value our independence. But you can’t have love of your country without loving your countrywomen and countrymen. We don’t always have to agree, but we must empower each other, we must find common ground, we must build bridges across our differences to pursue the common good.’”
He is survived by his sister, Anne Lombardi; children, Denise and Mark; son-in-law Joe Ivy; and grandchildren, Devlin Damico-Ivy and Sophie Rose Damico.
In memory of Gabe please donate to Alzheimer’s and Cancer research.