Don Gabriel was a pillar of our community. When news of his death arrived yesterday I was sitting in the newsroom at the radio station – very little information was available at that time in regards to his death – so I studied. Don’s history, philosophies and beliefs were widely available as he was an avid writer, bold in his faith and bold in his business. In Don Gabriel’s view the objectives were intertwined.
Don wrote for several publications, including the Branson Daily Independent, who I’ve inked a humble contract with recently. I’m cautious and my guards are up when a man stands up and combines religious and economic interests. But, Don Gabriel was the real deal
One particular editorial summed up the theme of his communication to the public. It was written in 2001. Don believed in Branson. He believed that it wasn’t a convention center, shopping malls nor gambling that would save us. He believed God would save us. He believed God was using Branson as a spiritual repository and that people would continue to come as long as our spiritual springs were flowing.
It’s occurred to me as I ponder the direction and nature of the community what seems to be a divide among religious and economic interests. Over the past couple of days I’ve received correspondence from business leaders, religious leaders and political leaders alike – all share an immense respect for Don and for good reason.
. One of his ambitions involved charter flights to Branson and his economic contributions both physically and in spirit will continue to provide blessings to our community.
As the networks continue to fight for ratings this month I witness the same tricks – a little more flesh – riskier jokes. They know it works which is what makes Branson an anomaly. We may have the highest ratio of visitors to residents of any tourist destination and Don was quick to point out that our spiritual economy was a contributing factor. For many, Branson is a place of spiritual refuge and the boldness Don expressed his faith will remain long after his funeral is forgotten. There is a part of us that lives forever and Don’s words will forever live with us. God bless you Don on your transition back home! We thank God we were blessed to have you with us.