Chris Gabriel, 88, of Huntingdon Valley, PA, after a brief illness died peacefully
early Sunday morning, August 16, 2020 at Abington Hospital.
Born February 24, 1932 in Chicago, IL, son of Christopher and Caroline( Anton)
Gabriel. He is survived by his wife of 63 years, Joy (Petropoulos). Also surviving
are two sons, Christopher (Wendy) and their daughters, Caleigh and Cadence of
Fresno, CA and Peter James of Huntingdon Valley.
He was preceded in death by his parents and his brother, George and sister-in-law
Violet of Dallas TX.
His McFamily was extensive, from fellow Owner Operator’s, corporate business
partners, suppliers, and most especially all his employees and their families whom
he cared about deeply. He was a partner, friend, boss and Uncle Chris to many.
Chris served proudly in the United States Air Force as a Radio Radar Navigator and
bombardier in the Korean War from 1950 – 1953. His air wing team photo of
Morton (pilot), Pryor (Left gunner), Peterson (central gunner), Johnson (engineer)
Frey (right gunner) and Wigdorski (tail gunner) hung proudly and with great
respect and admiration.
While working at a coffee shop at Chicago’s O’Hare airport, the young
enterprising Gabriel had a chance meeting in 1963 with the then budding
hamburger guru, Ray Kroc. Ray was struck by Chris’s ambition and big heart and
agreed to help Chris acquire his 1 st McDonald’s restaurant, despite his lack of
money. By 1965 Gabriel was in Peoria, Illinois with 5 stores. In 1972 he sold them
and came to Philadelphia where over the years operated up to 15 other
McDonald’s restaurants. Presently, Chris operated two McDonald’s, the
Bensalem and Hatboro locations.
In 1974, Chris helped to open the first-ever Ronald McDonald House in
Philadelphia. The House serves as a model for more than 365 houses throughout
the United States and world, with local chapters in 64 countries. Chris for many
years was a member of the Global Board of Trustees for the Ronald McDonald
House Charities and was an active Board Member and a lifetime supporter of the
Philadelphia Ronald McDonald House.
In 1981, Chris was also instrumental in developing the McDonald’s LPGA
Championship, a Ladies Professional Golf Association tournament. He served as
General Chairman of the event for its’ entire 29 year’s raising more than 46
million dollars for Ronald McDonald House Charities and other children’s
charities. Countless children have been given hope and sometimes life itself
because of his kindness.
In 1990, Chris received the Award of Excellence from Ronald McDonald House
Charities, which recognized the McDonald’s operator who best exemplified Ray
Kroc’s philosophy of giving back to the community. Chris donated the $25,000
award to the Philadelphia Ronald McDonald House to build a playground.
Chris has served as president of the McDonald’s Owner Operators Association of
the Philadelphia area for more than 15 years and has been a McDonald’s
franchise owner for more than 56 years.
During Chris’s life long career he had been the recipient of many distinguished
awards for his leadership skills, restaurant development, vision and character.
Chris credited his accomplishment of these awards to his people whom he praised
for their dedication to both McDonald’s and himself.
Chris Gabriel’s leadership and community involvement have not gone unnoticed.
He was inducted into the Hatboro-Horsham School District Hall of Fame and had
been recognized several times by his local Chambers of Commerce, Lion’s Clubs
and Rotary. Chris was a longtime supporter of the military at the Willow Grove
Naval Air Station, local chapter of the American Red Cross and the local Police and
Fire departments within each of his communities.
Chris saw everyday as an opportunity to give back to the community and was a
strong believer in reaching out to support others. Chris claimed, “The community
is an important part of all that we do at McDonald’s, that’s why we must support
our local schools, churches and community centers. No amount of time or money
is too much to help make someone’s life easier”. His business was selling
hamburgers. His passion was helping people.
Funeral arrangement here: private
In honor of Chris, his McDonald’s in both Hatboro and Bensalem will be hosting a
“Celebration of Life” event on Friday, August 28 th from 2PM – 4PM. Everyone in
the community, his family and friends are invited to come to his Drive Thru for a
Remembrance “thank you” meal.
In lieu of flowers the family has requested that donations be made in his memory
to the Philadelphia Ronald McDonald House, 3925 Chestnut Street, Philadelphia,
To send flowers to the family or plant a tree in memory of Gabriel C. Gabriel, please visit our floral store.
Ronald McDonald House, Chris Gabriel