Services set for longtime Lake Oswego resident Gabriel Spaccarelli
Funeral services and a celebration of life have been scheduled this weekend for longtime Lake Oswego resident Gabriel Spaccarelli, who died Sept. 9 in a motorcycle accident near the town of Antelope in Wasco County.
Spaccarelli's death sent a shockwave of grief and heartache throughout the community, which remembers the 44-year-old son of Riccardo's Ristorante owners Georgette and Riccardo Spaccarelli as a man of ingenuity and altruism.
"This news couldn't be more sad. Gabe was a wonderful human being and loved his wife, family and friends with his entire heart," Margo Durdel told The Review. "This is a tremendous loss for all who knew and loved him. My heart goes out to them all."
Spaccareilli's funeral will be held at Saint Clare Parish (8535 S.W. 19th Ave., Portland) at 10 a.m. on Saturday, Sept. 22, the family has announced. A celebration of life will be held at Riccardo's Ristorante (16035 S.W. Boones Ferry Road, Lake Oswego) from 1-4 p.m. on Sunday, Sept. 23.
According to the Oregon State Police, Spaccarelli was riding north on Highway 218 with a friend when he became distracted, left the roadway and crashed into a nearby field. He sustained fatal injuries in the crash and was pronounced dead at the scene, according to state troopers and the Fossil Fire Department.
"There is small blessing in that no one besides Gabe was harmed," the family wrote in an online message to the community. "While he was not around family, he was surrounded by his closest friends — doing something he truly loved."
In the days following the accident, his parents and wife April say they received a huge outpouring of condolences and support for Spaccarelli, who grew up working in his parent's restaurant.
"The hole in the hearts of his family, friends and co-workers will never be filled, but we are grateful to be surrounded by all the people who cared for him," his family wrote. "There has been so much outpouring of support from the community and friends, and always with the question, 'What can we do to help?' We would like to ask that instead of flowers or gifts that you consider using that money to add to our fund to help cover the mountain of funeral, transportation, medical bills, etc., that are piling up on his wife."
By Monday night, more than $29,000 had been raised at gofundme.com/gabriel-spaccarelli-memorial-fund.
Gabriel Spaccarelli was born in Logan, Utah, to Richard and Georgette Spaccarelli and moved to Lake Oswego at the age of 5. He graduated from Lakeridge High School in 1992 before attending what is now Southern Oregon University in Ashland.
Spaccarelli and his siblings — sister Maria and older brother Nathan — all worked during their childhood years at Riccardo's Ristorante, which opened its doors in Lake Oswego in 1980 and has remained a culinary icon in the Lake Grove neighborhood ever since.
During a trip to Italy in 1986, the family toured the illy factory and the brothers developed a passion for Italian coffee. In 1996, Nathan and his wife Kathrin launched Sapori Fine Flavors and became the exclusive illy coffee providers in the Portland area. Gabriel played an integral role in the business, family members say, serving as its head technician, trainer and quality control specialist.
In that role, he worked with many businesses and restaurants across the Pacific Northwest, including several in Lake Oswego.
"At Gubanc's and Babica Hen, Gabe was the team's favorite vendor by a long shot," said restaurateur and Lake Oswego City Councilor Joe Buck. "When the coffee machine would go out in the middle of Sunday brunch, Gabe would drop what he was doing to be there with a solution. I'll miss seeing him when he'd pop in on Mondays when we're closed to check on the equipment, always in a good mood, always down to business, always a bright spot in my day. All of us here are beyond devastated with this news."
A lifelong motorcycle enthusiast, Spaccarelli traveled often and held special connections with people and places in Australia and Italy. At age 16, he spent a year with Rotary Exchange in Melbourne, Australia, where he developed a lifelong connection with his host family, Peter and Jenny Crawford. After college, he apprenticed in Northern Italian kitchens in Piedmonte, Friuli, Marche and Tuscany, where he honed his palette with Stefano and Annamaria Cuccuini.
"The shock of losing our son Gabriel is still heavy on our hearts and spirits," the family said in a statement, "but we wanted to send you all a sincere thank you for the condolences, flowers, hugs, tears and prayers."