Dr. Gabriel “Gabe” Fornari Sr, 78, of Hilton Head South Carolina, died January 10, 2024 after being diagnosed with cancer three years ago. He died peacefully at his home in Moss Creek Hilton Head SC with his wife Diane and son Gabriel at his side.
Born September 7, 1945 in Steubenville, Ohio, to Mary and Charles Fornari, Gabe was raised in Weirton, West Virginia where he went to Madonna High School and met his future wife, Diane Greco, the love of his life and best friend. Their 55 years of marriage was blessed with much happiness.
He was preceded in death by his parents, sister Donna McConnell, nephew Eric McConnell and brother-in-law Jim Runkel. He is survived by his wife Diane, sons Dr. Gabriel Fornari Jr, Dr. Luke Fornari and wife Alison, sisters Marcia Runkel and JoEllen Rappold and husband Walter, and his grandchildren Pierce, Ethan, Stella, Silvio, Diego and Enzo. He is also survived by 18 nieces and nephews and their 27 children. Although Gabe had no brothers, he found brotherhood in his cousin David Rigot, his best friend from grade school Greg Plesich and Diane’s three brothers Korky, Sam, and Rick. He considered his sisters-in-law, Donne Paine and Debbie Catton, as his own sisters. He also maintained an entourage of grade school and high school friends that continued to meet, travel, and support each other all through his life.
Gabe earned a BS from West Virginia University and taught high school biology at Weirton High School and Linsley Military Academy before he returned to the university to earn his MS and MD degrees. After completing his Family Practice Residency at Marshall University, he joined the Huntington Emergency Physicians Group at St. Mary’s Hospital where he continued to work for 25 years as a Board-Certified Family Practice and Emergency Medicine physician until his retirement in 2004 when he moved to Hilton Head Island, SC to work with his son Dr. Gabriel Fornari Jr and then with the McLeod Hospital Outpatient in Florence, SC.
In 1991 , Gabe and Diane bought a small beach house on Hilton Head Island where they spent 25 years of happiness hosting their large families and countless friends into their home and on to the beach. It was a special chapter in their lives.
People remember Gabe for his sense of humor, delicious cooking, especially of Italian dishes,( He would say that the secret to good cooking is “cooking with love.”), and for his passion for golf.
He began golfing at age 12 when he started caddying and continued for more than 60 years with his winning numerous tournaments and making many good friends along the way. He was most proud of making EIGHT “hole in one’s “ !!
Few people knew that Gabe also enjoyed painting, being a handyman, and growing vegetables. Some of his paintings adorn the family home. There was not a household task that he felt he could not handle, including building a family room. And, wherever Diane and he lived, he planted a vegetable garden, dominated by tomato plants that he loved to share with friends.
For the excellent care and consideration given to Gabe, the family is grateful to Dr. Gary Thomas , Lynn Ferrelli and the staff at St. Joseph Candler Cancer Center in Buckwalter, and to Hospice Care of the LowCountry, especially Nurse Cassie Beard.
A service in memory of Gabe will be held Sunday, March 17 from 1:00 pm to 4:00 pm at the Greco-Hernick Funeral Home, 3219 Main St. Weirton, WV 26062. In lieu of flowers, please donate to an organization of your choice.