GABBARD, Louis, age 86, of Kettering, OH, passed away October 1, 2023. He is survived by his four daughters and their husbands: Lori and David Graham, Julie and Vincent Arnold, Holly and Steven Hippenmeyer, and Amy and Robert Morgan. He is also survived by his beloved grandchildren, Michelle, Michael, Kara, Ashley, Joe, Kaylee, Reagan, Ella, Logan, Lauren, Daniel, Clayton, Sophie, Taylor and Macy, 10 great grandchildren and cherished cousins, nieces and nephews.
Lou was preceded in death by his loving wife, Donna, in 2022, his father, Clayton, in 1956, his mother, Leoma, in 1985, and his five sisters Mary, Nancy, Dotty, Helen and Lee, and one great grandchild. “Some people come into our lives and quickly go. Some stay awhile, touch our hearts, and we are never the same.” Lou was such a man. He valued everyone he ever met, and he never forgot a name or a face. Lou’s work ethic was unparalleled and his willingness and desire to help others was unmatched. He was a loyal and devoted son, husband, father, brother, uncle, cousin, grandfather and friend.
Lou graduated from Lemon Monroe High School in 1954. He began studies in accounting on a full scholarship to Northwestern University in 1955. Lou transferred to Miami University to study education and graduated with a Bachelor of Science degree in 1959. As a student, he was a member of Omicron Delta Kappa, a varsity cheerleader and captain, head dorm counselor, a member of Inter-Collegiate Council, a member of student government, and a member of Phi Kappa Tau fraternity, serving as secretary. He received his Master of Science degree in Education from Miami in 1963. While at Miami, Lou met his wife Donna when they both served Miami as residence hall counselors. They became engaged in the summer of 1960 and married later that year. Lou and Donna remained staunch supporters of Miami, attended numerous games and activities, and traveled as far as Hawaii to support their RedHawks.
Lou was proud to be an educator. He began his career in the Riverside, California City School District in 1960 at Norte Vista High School where he taught history and government and served as the student council advisor. Lou was named New Teacher of the Year and served as treasurer of the district’s teacher association. He won the respect of many students and co-workers in that early chapter of his career and forged many lifelong friendships. In 1965, Lou and Donna returned to Ohio where Lou continued his teaching career at Walnut Hills High School in Cincinnati for one year and then devoted the rest of his career to the students in the Kettering City Schools from 1966 until he retired in 1990. At Fairmont East, he served as a social studies teacher and later as the Central Unit Supervisor. In addition, Lou served as the Student Council Advisor and led the students in writing a new constitution which was acknowledged by the Ohio High School Association of Student Councils as an Honor Student Council. Also at Fairmont East, Lou served as Advisor of Junior Council of World Affairs and led students in the Mock United Nations. He returned to the classroom when the two Kettering High Schools merged in 1983. While at Kettering Fairmont, Lou assisted in the creation of the new student council. In 1985 he finished his career as the Central Unit Supervisor at Kettering Junior High where again he helped create and write the constitution for the student government. As a teacher he was known for creating a classroom of mutual respect and responsibility. His innovative and demanding lessons brought history alive, and he influenced and changed the lives of many students. As an administrator he was known to be firm but fair. Lou believed in and encouraged all students. He was a believer and a living example that with hard work, anything was possible. He is remembered for his coordination and implementation of the Holiday at Home floats and transforming the unit with decorations and costumes during Spirit Week. Up until his passing he received numerous messages from former students appreciative of the impact he had on their lives as a teacher, administrator, role model and mentor. Lou was recognized for his service to the Kettering Schools while being presented with the Kettering Outstanding Teacher Award and was honored for his distinguished service to education by being inducted into Kettering’s Chester A. Roush Hall of Fame.
Lou had a servant’s heart. He volunteered for Aid Association for Lutherans coordinating volunteers in different regions over a multi-state area. He also served as the branch president hosting dinners, organizing back to school drives, and coordinating numerous service activities. In 1997 Lou received a national award for being one of the top ten Fraternalists of the Year. He tutored students in English and social studies and volunteered for Miami University recruiting local students. He organized a fund-raising campaign to support a Miami University athlete after being involved in a tragic car accident. Lou’s efforts extended to support the missions of his church. Over the years as a member of Emmanuel Lutheran, Epiphany Lutheran, and Living Water Lutheran, he coordinated school supply drives, flower sales to support local needs, served on multiple committees and councils, participated in Adopt-A-Family Christmas drives, and organized new member receptions and orientations. Lou served on Kettering schools’ PTAs for decades, was a member of the Kettering Fairmont Athletic Boosters Club, worked as a poll worker throughout retirement, served as the Neighborhood Watch Coordinator, volunteered at local spelling bee contests and for two decades raised funds for JDRF.
Lou and Donna lived in the same Kettering home they had built in 1965 until 2021. It was a gathering place for family and friends. Lou was an avid gardener who took meticulous care of and had great pride in his yard and received the beautification award by the city of Kettering multiple times. He cherished time spent with neighbors, family and friends and was known to organize neighborhood block parties, bridge groups, and was always ready for a game of cards, or a chat on his porch. He will be remembered for his thoughtful nature. Lou was always thinking of others with phone calls, homemade baked goods, care packages, and endless greeting cards. One of his great joys in later life was spending time with his grandchildren. He enjoyed attending their events, hearing about their days, traveling with them, taking them to Kings Island, and simply enjoying their company.
Family and friends are welcome to attend a Celebration of Life on November 24, 2023 at 1:00 with visitation preceding from 12:00-1:00 at Routsong Funeral Home, 2100 E. Stroop Road, Kettering, OH 45429. A livestream of the Celebration will be available for those unable to attend via Routsong’s YouTube channel. Private family burial at David’s Cemetery.
In lieu of flowers, contributions can be made in Lou’s memory to the Kettering Education Foundation. Donations can be mailed to: Lucy Baker, Donor Services, The Dayton Foundation; 1401 S Main Street, Suite 100, Dayton, OH 45409