Charles Gabriel '52 September 27, 2021 11:11 AM updated: September 28, 2021 3:45 PM
Charles James Gabriel
November 23, 1929 – September 17, 2021
Charles James Gabriel passed away on September 17, 2021 at the age of 91. He was born on November 23, 1929 and was a lifelong resident of Houston, TX.
Charles attended Immaculate Conception Catholic School, where he was active in Boy Scouts and was one of only two in his troop to earn Eagle Scout. He attended Texas A&M after graduating from Milby High School in 1948. The head track and field coach at Texas A&M, Frank “Colonel Andy” Anderson, recognized Charles’ potential and offered incentives for Charles to run track for Texas A&M. Charles lettered in both track and cross country. In 1951, he placed 6th in the nation in the 5000 meter at the National AAU Track competition. He was written up in newspapers and appeared in national newsreels as the unknown Aggie who pressed Curt Stone to a national record in the 3000 meter steeplechase. Charles graduated from Texas A&M in 1953 with a BS in Animal Husbandry. Soon after graduation, he received his orders to serve in the US Army and was stationed in Japan. He was proud of his service and achieved the rank of First Lieutenant. While in the Army, Charles decided he would like to teach, and in 1956 he returned to Texas A&M where he earned a teaching certificate with majors in science and history. His first job was at Burbank Jr. High teaching science. Later, Charles was a counselor at Fonville Jr. High. There, he was most proud of establishing a CVAE program. In 1960, Charles earned his Masters in Administration from Texas A&M and was an assistant principal until he returned to teaching science at Scarborough Jr./Sr. High. He retired from teaching in 1990 after decades of helping students.
Charles led a busy life and enjoyed his part time job at the Astrodome, where he was named Employee of the Year in 1978. He was an active member of the Men’s Club at St. Ambrose Catholic Church and worked bingo every Tuesday night. Charles supported his community as a member of the Mangum Manor Civic Club as well. His tireless efforts to improve his neighborhood included the beautification of the Antoine esplanades and flood control for the neighborhood. Charles was a member of the Houston Association of Retired Teachers serving as a greeter and was responsible for the HART mailout. He had many hobbies and interests at which he excelled. His woodworking skills were well known and his grandchildren all slept in the cradles he built for them. Charles loved camping and travel too, and he and wife Janice camped all over the United States. Genealogy was very important to Charles and he researched and charted six generations of his family history. He was a loving Papa and enjoyed taking his children and grandchildren on family vacations each summer. In his 80’s, Charles developed an interest in stained glass. His projects were both varied and beautiful.
Texas A&M University remained close to his heart and he made many trips back to College Station to attend events and reunions. When his daughters were young, he enjoyed taking them to campus to see the dairy cows and get ice cream at the creamery. He was very proud to present his grandson, Martin Nelson ’16, with his Aggie Ring and take him to tour the campus and see his former dorm, Hart Hall. He was equally proud when his granddaughter, Danielle Harding ’19 became an Aggie.
Charles is survived by his beloved wife of 61 years, Janice; daughters Charlene Nelson and her husband Marty, of Carrollton, TX; Evelyn Harding ’84 and her husband Steve ‘84, of Houston, TX; Laura Wadley and her husband Tim, of Leawood, KS. Also surviving are four grandchildren; Martin Nelson ’16 and his wife Darian, Danielle Harding ‘19, Madeline Wadley and Gabrielle Wadley; one great grandchild, Rocky Charles Nelson. A Celebration of Life will be held at a later date. The family invites you to share thoughts, fond memories, and condolences online on the Dignity Memorial Memory Book at www.dignitymemorial.com