Requiescat in Pace, Gabe Michael ’98.
We mourn the loss of Michael, the coach of the St. Joe’s basketball team and a beloved member of the local basketball community.
Michael died Tuesday. He was 43.
Arrangements were announced Wednesday: A Mass of Christian Burial will be celebrated at 11 a.m. Saturday, Nov. 25 at Assumption Church, 435 Amherst St., Buffalo.
Our hearts and our thoughts are with St. Joe’s and their basketball program and the entire Michael family, including Gabe’s father, Joe ’64. Gabe was present at our Legacy Fund luncheon earlier this fall when his father was honored for his years of support of CHS.
“Our Canisius High School community is stunned and deeply saddened by the loss of Gabe Michael ’98 and we extend our condolences and promise of prayers to his family and loved ones,” said President Fr. David Ciancimino, S.J.
“We are united in prayer and sorrow with our brothers and families at SJCI as we mourn the loss of this genuinely good man. May we allow knowing that Gabe now enjoys the loving embrace of our Lord Jesus to bring us some peace.”
Michael was a former assistant at CHS. He also was a head coach at Williamsville South and was an assistant at Medaille University and Canisius University.
“Gabe was a true friend of mine and of so many,” said Canisius basketball coach Kyle Husband '96. “The basketball community has lost someone incredibly special.
“He embodied what it is to be a coach. I’ve been around the game for a long time, and I don’t think I’ve met anyone as passionate about basketball, and as passionate about coaching, as Gabe.
“He truly loved it. He truly loved his players, and you could tell they loved him back.
“He was a special person, and he will be missed by so many in the basketball community.”
Husband had a unique relationship with Michael amid one of the fiercest rivalries in high school sports. In Husband's first season as head coach at CHS, Michael was the freshman coach and a varsity assistant.
"He just exuded his joy for the game, every single time he was out there, every practice he had the same fun," said Husband. "He just loved being out there.
"We went back a very long time, and throughout all of his destinations and journeys we stayed in contact, the friendship never waned, especially when he became coach at St. Joe's. The schools are rivals, but we were such good friends – we spoke on the phone after each game. We had fun with it. He will truly be missed."
“Gabe was one of my first students at Canisius,” said Latin teacher John Anderson. “His smile and laugher will last in my memory forever.”
History teacher Dennis Beecher ’88 was the director of our Higher Achievement Program during a summer when Michael worked with middle-school students.
“The students absolutely adored him," Beecher said. "He enjoyed the competitions on the athletic fields as much as they did. Every time I saw Gabe he was smiling and so were the students. It was no surprise he was such a successful coach. He was someone everyone wanted to be around because he brightened the room and lifted everyone’s spirits.”
CHS football coach and earth science teacher Kraig Kurzanski ’84 became good friends with Michael while they coached their respective sports together for several years at Williamsville South.
“He was a good man who always saw the best in kids,” said Kurzanski. “We coached many of the same athletes and would often talk about how to get the best out of those kids. He came to many football games where we would talk. He became a good friend and was one of the first to congratulate me when I took the Canisius football job a few years ago. We had a long talk before our 100th Joe’s game in November. He came out onto the field in pregame and we had a great conversation.
“He was a fun, caring, kind man who did all he could to make his athletes better. My heart breaks for the family and my prayers go out to them. Eternal rest grant unto Gabe Michael, O Lord, and let perpetual light shine upon him. Gabe will be dearly missed.”
Athletic Director Jim Mauro said:
“Gabe is one of those individuals that you meet in your lifetime that always had a smile on his face and genuinely enjoyed conversations because he cared about people. He cared about his family and his players. My heartfelt condolences go out to his family and the many, many people he has impacted.”
Principal Tom Coppola '01 said:
“Gabe embodied what we hope our graduates become; a person made those around him better. He was kindhearted and good natured; always gracious in competition. The tributes we are seeing about Gabe have captured his spirit and how he lived his life in service to others.”
In lieu of flowers, donations may be made in Gabe's name to the St. Joseph Collegiate Institute basketball program.