Dental Alumnus Makes Significant Gift in Memory of Nursing Alumna Wife

June 2012Kate Volkman

On a fall afternoon in 1941, Herbert Gabriel, a dentistry student at UCSF, walked up Parnassus Avenue toward the hospital, where a few nursing students were talking. He stopped to say hello and was introduced to Betty. “It was love at first sight,” Gabriel recalls, his voice heavy with emotion. “After our first date, neither of us went with anybody else.”

They married in 1944, just before Gabriel, DDS, ’43 went off to serve in World War II. When he returned, they moved to his hometown of Oceanside, Calif., and raised three boys. After 60 years of marriage, in 2004, Gabriel lost the love of his life, Betty H. Gabriel, BS, ’43. Ever since she passed, he has been searching for the right way to memorialize her. Finally he found it: a gift of $250,000 to UCSF School of Nursing for student scholarships.

Betty H. Gabriel as a nursing student at UCSF Gabriel says Betty’s compassionate personality made her a natural at nursing. She grew up on a farm in Corning, Calif., as the youngest of 10 children. “Nursing was always something that attracted her,” he says. “So there was no doubt when she got out of high school what she was going to do.”

He and Betty had been longtime donors to student scholarships at UCSF, but this gift was by far their most significant. It matched the extraordinary gift UCSF Chancellor Susan Desmond-Hellmann and her husband, Nicholas Hellmann, recently made to the campus: $1 million for professional student scholarships, divided equally among the schools of dentistry, medicine, nursing and pharmacy. Each of the schools received $250,000 for student support upon securing a matching gift of $250,000 – creating the first Chancellor’s Endowed Scholarships at UCSF.

Like the Gabriels, Susan Desmond-Hellmann and Nicholas Hellmann met at UCSF. They were both medical residents at the time (photo by Noah Berger). The largest donation ever received from a past or present UCSF chancellor was motivated by the campus’s new four-year, $100 million fundraising initiative to support students and teaching. Aimed at offsetting diminished state funding, it includes $80 million in new scholarships and $20 million for curriculum innovation, interprofessional education and teaching facilities.

“UCSF is committed to excellence in training the next generation of clinicians, teachers and researchers,” says David Vlahov, dean of UCSF School of Nursing. “We want to attract the best and brightest students, who will be prepared for providing and leading health care. The generous gift from Herb Gabriel, in memory of his wife, Betty – and Sue and Nick’s contribution – move us forward to meet this goal.”

“These four alumni are the stuff of legacy,” says Vlahov. “Not only do their gifts make education more affordable, but their life and work inspire in students the values of excellence and integrity.”