CHICAGO, IL (May 8, 2014) — Gary Gabel, one of three Americans shot to death at a hospital in Afghanistan last month, graduated with a business degree from North Park University in 1978.
Gary Gabel’s son, John, also was killed. John’s wife was wounded in the attack. Pediatrician Dr. Jerry Umanos, a lifetime Covenanter, also was murdered when a member of Afghan security forces fired on the group as they walked on the grounds of CURE International Hospital in Kabul. No motive for the attack has been reported.
Residents of the Chicago suburb of Palatine, Gary Gabel and his wife, Betty, were visiting John and his family. John Gabel had directed a small health clinic in Kabul for two years.
Mark Youngberg, a member of Prairie Hills Covenant Church in Sioux Falls, South Dakota, was Gary Gabel’s roommate for a year at North Park. “I was there for the college experience and stretched four years into five. He did four years in three,” Youngberg said this afternoon. “It was kind of like having a younger brother who acts more like the older brother.”
Youngberg also knew Umanos from Portage Lake Covenant Bible Camp, where their families would attend family camp for one week each year, and always looked forward to reconnecting. “He was always easy to talk to,” Youngberg said. “We had some great conversations.”
Media reported Umanos’s name within hours of the attack, but the names of the Gabels were not widely published for several days. Already saddened by the death of Umanos, Youngberg said it was “unsettling” when he was watching the news and learned of his former roommate’s death. At first, he didn’t think it was possible that he would have known both men.
“I can’t figure out God’s purpose in this,” Youngberg said.
Elliott Johnson, controller for the Evangelical Covenant Church, has attended church with Gary Gabel for years, and described his good friend as “an outstanding Christian, a great guy. He always wanted to help others.” At church, he helped with youth groups, sang in the church choir, and served on the church leadership team as well as with other ministries.
Gary Gabel is survived by his wife and two daughters, Kristen Gabel and Beth (Jared) Miller.
Visitation will be from 5 p.m. to 9 p.m. tonight at Thursday, May 8, 2014 at Glueckert Funeral Home in Arlington Heights. A celebration of life service will be held at 11 a.m. Friday, at the Orchard Evangelical Free Church in Arlington Heights. Interment is private.