Gerald Deabel died at age 83 at Mountain View Regional Hospital in Las Cruces on December 18, 2017.
Gerald Deabel was born in Chicago on October 9, 1934, to Harry and Minnie Deabel. After his father died in 1950, his family moved to a small home in Lake Geneva, Wisconsin. The area was considered to be the “Newport of the West” and gained fame from the 1850’s through the 1920’s. Famous wealthy families including the Wrigleys, Maytags, and Schwinns built mansions by the lake.
Gerald’s father died of a complication related to surgery when Gerald was only fifteen years old. The family was left destitute and he, his sister and mother had only $63 in social security money per month upon which to live. Gerald graduated from Lake Geneva High School but was forced back to Chicago in search of employment. He held a couple of prominent positions in the Windy City over a twenty-year period. When he decided it was time to leave the cold, windy city, friends convinced him to move to Las Cruces.
Gerald recalls reading about two men whose experiences and advice stuck with him all his life: W. Clement Stone’s autobiography The Success System that Never Fails and Napoleon Hills’s Think and Grow Rich.
He started in the real estate business in 1953 investing in apartments complexes as well as single homes. He expanded his business interests to Ruidoso, New Mexico, and Safford, Arizona, and several other areas. He recalls that experiencing poverty first hand created an indelible sensitivity to those less fortunate. He was an astute businessman who combined integrity with intelligence. One was struck by his humility and straightforward ways. Despite considerable business success, Gerald worked hard every day and would never be found boasting. When asked to what he attributed his success he said, “Living the Golden Rule in everything I do, and work, work, work”.
Mr. Deabel was always engaged in philanthropic work and recalls even as a young child, his family helped build a Lutheran church in Pell Lake, Wisconsin. He was engaged in various good works in Puerto Rico, New York, and San Francisco. He served as President of the Board of Hospital Hands plus the boards of Project Concerns as well as Project Appalachia.
He met Margaret Connealy, then Executive Director at Mesilla Valley Hospice, and was impressed with the hospice program, particularly its low administrative costs compared to other charitable organizations. He also liked the idea of the money staying in the community. In 2003 he established the Deabel Legacy Society by providing a Charitable Remainder Unitrust currently valued at close to $3.6 million dollars, the largest designation ever made to the organization. Mr. Deabel has since increased his donation to over ten million dollars, the largest known donation in Las Cruces ever. His legacy will ensure the wellbeing of Mesilla Valley Hospice for many years to come.
Gerald Deabel was preceded in death by his friend, Larry Button in 2017 and his sister, Nancy Wasser who died in 2008. He is survived by Dan Wasser, brother-in-law, his nephew Danny Wasser Jr. and wife Sharon son Tate and daughter MacKenzie Zemek , niece Kris Wasser and her children Amber and Shannon Robinson and her granddaughter Raylyn.
Memorial services are scheduled for 11:00 AM on January 3 (Wednesday), 2018, at Getz Funeral Home.