Gabe Gelbart


This memorial tribute was created to celebrate the magnificent life of Gabe Gelbart. We encourage you to leave a remembrance, post photos and give your loving support to Mitch, Gabe's family and all of Gabe's loved ones in this online guestbook.

Gabe Gelbart

Date of Birth:
October 15, 1960
Date of Death:
June 15, 2014
Topanga, California, United States


Eulogy for Gabe

Just over six weeks ago many of us were gathered or knew in our hearts that on this spot a wonderful moment of celebration in Gabe's and my life was taking place, a marriage of two loves.

When we found this property, thanks to Tanya, gay marriage was actually illegal... How much has changed.
Today we gather again for something even more wondrous and profound as we celebrate the culmination of Gabe’s amazing life amongst us.
Gabe and I lived life at lightning speed, neither one of us felt we had control of the pace and we surrendered fully to what unfolded. I am grateful for our “magic carpet ride” as we called it, and all that we managed to fit into our time together.
The week before he died, we said good-bye to his dog Colby, a couple weeks after our cat Buster disappeared. In the past week we heard James Taylor perform at the Hollywood bowl, we had a couple of our many cherished dinner parties, opening our home and breaking bread with others. Last Thursday Gabe lead a meeting full of excitement about his ongoing efforts to create an annual music festival benefit for Anam Cara, the Topanga Folk Fest.
Friday we spent an amazing evening celebrating Sherry's birthday at the Bistro with dear friends, some we had only met that evening who had discovered Gabe's magnificence, and we shared more treasured time with Bruce and Teresa, who love us like a brother and sister, as well as other Canyon friends.
The day before he died, we visited the Descanso Botanical Garden, holding hands – as we always did everywhere we went – we walked in nature, savoring the beauty all around us. That night, we were up late in Alta Dena with Mary Ellen, for a wonderful Indian dinner and to prepare for a hospice volunteer training that was scheduled for this Friday-Sunday weekend. Gabe had decided he would start training with the opening topic “What Death Teaches Us About Life”... We expected 10 to 15 people for the training. Now he is teaching all of us instead.
The morning he died was beautiful for us, filled with tenderness, meditation and yoga, work in the garden, preparing to send out our wedding photo album to all our friends later that evening. We went for a short bike ride, one of our favorite activities throughout our relationship and always so much more enjoyable here in Topanga.
We sat outdoors at Pat's for a Father's Day brunch, enjoying a canyon breeze and some beautiful live folk music played by a musician Gabe had intended to ask to sing at the Folk Fest. Before the food came, he complained of heartburn, apparently much more than merely that. Neither of us knew he was at risk for an inherited heart disease.
He asked me to ride home and get the car to take him to the hospital rather than call the paramedics or an ambulance. We made it two blocks from the hospital; he was holding my hand and collapsed on my shoulder. A team of caregivers tried so very hard to save him.
It was a spectacularly beautiful day. At the hospital Olivia remarked that if felt as if in some grotesquely tragic way heaven had collided with earth.
Gabe loved to create community, he and I never, never, felt it more than we do here... and immeasurably more today. Gabriel sought community his entire life, slowly evolving into greater and greater authenticity, as do many people who grow up different spend much of their early years hiding and feeling alone and disconnected. He found home, community, and more joy here in the past year than he ever discovered in all the earlier years of his life. I too have never experienced or imagined this love and support, and I am so grateful for him, and for the comfort you are providing me.
Together he and I were exponentially greater than our separate selves. I will never ever be the same without him. But in his physical death, he has created a void, an opening for community and others to come forward and do work he would have done to realize his dream. It is wonderful to me that in his death he has again created yet another of his famous audience participation events and galvanized all of us to fulfill his dream in his honor. We will work from this side, and that he will work from the other side, I imagine him greeting all those who transition here.
Although I don't believe that he wanted to, he has stepped aside to allow the community to embrace Anam Cara as he always dreamed, the two of us nothing more than the spark of the vision, caretakers and stewards of this magical land.
Many of you were witness to Gabe's amazing magic with beauty and art. He could see the potential in all things, from sculpting, design, building, singing, thought-provoking and profound performance pieces, magic in the garden, and even more magic as an alchemist with whole food. Always remember the way he created art and beauty from the simplest random assortment of flatware and sugar packets on a restaurant table, or rearranged someone's home – sometimes without their permission – into something entirely new.
Funerals are for the living. Gabe is modeling that for all of
us. Yes it is sad, horribly sad. But he is fortifying me and imbuing this sacred land with his life, a place where death is sad but not frightening. Where this place in nature – like earth medicine and therapy – can hold the dying and the loved ones left behind... We are his loved ones.
Look at the beauty that surrounds us. He was beloved by so many; he feels your love and the cradle of support you have created for me. He is a magnificent being.
- Mitch, June 21, 2014
Gabe's Obituary
Gabriel Albert Gelbart, 53, of Topanga, died suddenly after an apparent heart attack the afternoon of Sunday, June 15, following a bike ride in the Canyon with his new husband, Mitch Metzner. Gabe, a very gentle soul, had been a resident of Topanga for a year, just having been married at his home, Anam Cara, in early May.
Gabe was beloved by many as the co-founder of Anam Cara, the senior architect at Warwick Group of Los Angeles, an accomplished performance artist, and previously as a Disney Imagineer who was instrumental in creating Disney Seas in Tokyo, Japan. He attended Boston Architectural Center and was a graduate of UCSD and UCLA, and has been a resident of Los Angeles County since 1986. Gabe was born in Buenos Aires, Argentina, immigrated to Brooklyn, NY, with his family at the age of two, and attended high school in San Diego, CA.
In his twenties, Gabe lived in a Kibbutz in Jerusalem, later becoming an avid traveler, living in Japan for two years while working for Disney, and enjoying trips to eastern Europe, Greece and Spain with friends and family. He was also fluent in Spanish and Hebrew.
Not only was Gabe talented in creating a Zen-like beauty in architecture and landscapes, he was a lover of folk music and enjoyed sculpting, painting, writing and performing. His love of gardening and his amazingly unique culinary creations were evident in his home and hospitality.
Gabe co-conceived the concept and vision of Anam Cara, an end-of-life home where those with life-limiting illness can experience the healing beauty of nature. He was an avid student of holistic medicine, plant-based nutrition, and spirituality.
Gabe selflessly gave of his time and talents in serving others. He served as an assistant trainer for The Twilight Brigade, a hospice and veteran service organization, and lead trainer for the Anam Cara hospice program. He donated his time and creative talents in one-man autobiographical performance pieces for theatre and community organizations such as Highways Performance Space, the California Men’s Gathering, and ONE National Gay and Lesbian Archives.
He donated his design skills to the Los Angeles Gay and Lesbian Center and the Dome Village homeless shelter; organized Disney coworkers to host holiday parties for the homeless; spent many hours helping at The Midnight Mission homeless service center in downtown Los Angeles, and played guitar and sang for hospice patients weekly.
Gabe is survived by his husband, Mitch Metzner of Topanga; his brother and sister-in-law, Carl and Becky Gelbart, and his nieces, Charlie and Nicole, of Laguna Niguel. He was preceded in death by his parents, Henry and Eva Gelbart, and former partner, Paul Rhoadzhagen.
The funeral celebrating Gabe’s life was held on Saturday, June 21, at his home in Topanga. In lieu of flowers, donations are requested to help make Gabe's vision of Anam Cara a reality. Send to: Anam Cara, 1178 N. Topanga Canyon Blvd., Topanga CA 90290, or donate online at
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About This Tribute

Tribute created by:
Mitch Metzner
Other Tribute administrators:
Beth Bolwerk
Tribute account type:
Memorial Tribute (Lifetime)

Visits to this site: 1668

Latest Tribute Activity

August 01, 2014

Jeff Sherman signed the guestbook:
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July 23, 2014

Debra Ruzinsky signed the guestbook:
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July 21, 2014

Bill Hansen, Fallbrook, CA. signed the guestbook:
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June 26, 2014

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June 25, 2014

Beth Bolwerk updated the obituary:
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Olivia Bareham added new photos to the album “Gabriel's Home Funeral ”:

June 24, 2014

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June 23, 2014

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June 17, 2014

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