Museum Mourns Passing of Founder
Santa Monica History Museum Mourns Passing of Founder, President, and CEO Louise Gabriel – Honors Her Legacy by Keeping History Alive
The Santa Monica History Museum is saddened by the passing of its Founder, President, and CEO Louise Gabriel. Gabriel was a member of the Historical Activities Committee of the Santa Monica Centennial Celebration in 1975 which led to the establishment of the Santa Monica Historical Society. Gabriel was one of the founders and incorporators of the Santa Monica Historical Society. As the collections of the Historical Society grew Louise Gabriel, along with her late husband Bob Gabriel, endeavored to establish the Santa Monica Historical Society Museum to give the Historical Society a home to share the City’s history with the public. Established in 1988, the Santa Monica Historical Society Museum is now known as the Santa Monica History Museum and flourishes in a state-of-the-art location on the main campus of the Santa Monica Public Library.
Louise Gabriel is the reason the Santa Monica History Museum exists today. It was her hard work and determination that lead to the donation of the first display cases and furniture needed to open the museum. As the museum grew, it was at her direction. Her vision and leadership allowed the museum to thrive and to become an important part of the community. “I will dearly miss Louise Gabriel, her passion for the city of Santa Monica and ‘Keeping History Alive’, her friendship, and leadership skills. I was honored to serve as Chair of the Museum’s Board of Directors and as a current Board Member will continue to support her legacy,” said Edward Guerboian, Santa Monica History Museum Board Member.
“My mother died peacefully surround by her beloved family,” said Susan Gabriel Potter, Louise Gabriel’s daughter and Santa Monica History Museum Board Member. “My mom was an extraordinary woman who lived her life to the fullest with great passion, humor, and love. She loved the community she lived in and gave back in the most generous ways.
She is an inspiration to so many and has left a tremendous legacy. The founding of the Santa Monica History Museum was to her one of her greatest accomplishments and what she was most proud of. The Santa Monica community having their own museum to preserve our own history for generations to come. There will never be another ‘Louise Gabriel’. I was so blessed to have called her my mother,” continued Gabriel Potter.
Louise Gabriel is survived by her children, Susan Gabriel Potter, Robb Gabriel, and Sharyl Gabriel Szydlik; grandchildren Patrick Potter, Bryan Potter, and Michael Szydlik; two sisters Josephine Van Buren and Elaine Bruner; sons-in-law Pat Potter and Joseph Szydlik; and many nieces and nephews. Her family has requested that in lieu of flowers donations be made in Louise Gabriel’s honor to the Santa Monica History Museum, 1350 7th Street, Santa Monica, CA 90401.
In accordance with the Santa Monica History Museum’s succession plan, Susan Gabriel Potter has been elected by the Board of Directors as the Museum’s Interim President. Gabriel Potter will assume the duties of her late mother and lead the Museum through this time of transition. “My mother will always be my guiding light,” said Susan Gabriel Potter “and I am proud to keep her legacy and this museum moving forward to preserve and promote our community’s history.”
Before her passing Louise Gabriel, as President and CEO, had overseen the development of exciting plans for the Santa Monica History Museum in 2017. These plans include the continuation of the Museum’s popular free Discover the History lecture series and monthly free Hands on History children’s workshops. The Museum also has plans for four special exhibitions in addition to its permanent exhibit about the history of Santa Monica. These special exhibits will highlight the history of Girl Scouts, Shirley Temple, the KCRW radio station, and the Tongva Gabrielino Native Americans. “I know nothing would have made my mother prouder than working to keep our history alive,” added Gabriel Potter, “and I feel honored and privileged to be carrying on her life’s work by leading the Santa Monica History Museum.” For more information about these and other Museum events, activities, and exhibits please call (310) 395-2290 or visit www.santamonicahistory.org.