Gabriel M. Lopez was born March 18,1933, in El Paso, Texas, to Pablo Lopez and Francisca Montes Lopez. He passed away peacefully July 08, 2020, at his home surrounded by his family.
Gabe was proud of his humble beginnings. As the second of 10 children, he picked cotton and other crops as a child to help provide for the family.
One of the happiest days of his life was when he married the love of his life Petra Fuentes Lopez; they were married for 70 years.
As a young family man, he drove cattle trucks throughout the state of Arizona for the Benedict Feeding Co.
In looking toward the future, and to escape the “inferno,” as he called it, he moved his family to Santa Maria where he joined his parents who leased land, harvesting strawberry crops until he joined a local roofing company in Santa Barbara as an apprentice roofer. Gabe was an industrious, hardworking man and he continued there for several years.
He then decided to study for his contractor’s license and although sad to see him go, his employer was supportive when he went on to start his own business, Gabe’s Roofing Inc. Though difficult and through hard work, Gabe was never one to give up and the business prospered.
He was later asked to become an instructor at Santa Barbara City College teaching the roofing trade and helping others to obtain their contractor’s licenses as well. He was proud to have both his sons, his daughter and son in-law work with him through the years. Gabe had a strong, honest work ethic and taught all his children the same, which continues to serve them well.
Later, he wanted to semi-retire, and started a smaller company, A&G Roofing, working on jobs in the Santa Ynez Valley, where he and his wife moved until he fully retired.
Gabe and Petra enjoyed camping, fishing and boating at Cachuma Lake with their children and grandchildren. They enjoyed traveling to Lake Tahoe, Reno, Bass Lake and Las Vegas in their RV. Going on cruises with family and gardening were other favorite pastimes, as well as going to watch the Giants and Dodgers play baseball.
Gabe was preceded in death by his parents; brothers Narciso, Paul, Joe, John; two sons-in-law Henry Santillanes and John Corral Jr.; as well as an infant daughter Carmen.
He is survived by his wife Petra; children Irene Santillanes, Alice Corral, Robert Lopez (Annie), Edward Lopez (Teresa) and Gracie Estrada (Jesse). He leaves seven grandchildren Elizabeth Williams, John Corral, Stephen Santillanes, Michael Lopez, Andrea Lopez, Monique Donkin, Gabriel Estrada; and eight great-grandchildren.
He was also Grandpa to Jesse Estrada Jr., Ryan Myers, TJ Myers and Rachel Demsas. He is survived by his siblings Frank Lopez, Bertha Aguilar, Flora Gonzales, Guadalupe Lopez and Ben Lopez, along with numerous nieces and nephews, all with the fondest memories of times spent with him.
Gabriel lived and modeled his life with humbleness, dignity and grace. He was a source of quiet strength that forged a heritage and legacy for his children of strong work ethic and family love. We will miss him every day but are assured we will see him again.
A Celebration of Life was held at South Coast Church Goleta on July 25 with his family and friends.