Cleopha Mary Gabster, “Cle,” 102, of Missoula, Montana, passed away of natural causes, with family at bedside, early on Saturday, June 25, 2022.
She was born August 25, 1919 in Millvale, Pennsylvania, to Frank and Margret Koeberlein. As a young girl she lived with two sisters, one brother and a dog named Bouncer. As an academically talented student, Cle was educated at Millvale High School where she graduated after skipping over two years in elementary school.
On July 3, 1945, Cle married Andrew Gabster following his Navy service in the WWII Pacific Theater. They soon moved to Los Angeles, California where they spent the next fifty years together, raising three children. After Andrew’s passing in 1995, Cle moved to Missoula, Montana to be near her eldest son and her grandchildren.
In Missoula, Cle became an active member of Martha’s Sewing Ministry, an interfaith group of creative women who knit, crochet and sew literally tens-of-thousands of individual hats, shawls, quilts and clothing articles that are donated through several local and international aide agencies — and especially to American troops on the battlefield.
Cle was accomplished in the textile and design arts including: pattern making, upholstery and stain glass. She was well-known for cooking, baking and gardening, and “put up” nature’s bounty of fruits and vegetables from her garden.
During WWII Cle volunteered at local hospitals to alleviate short staffing. On February 13, 1945, when her employer, The National Supply Company of Pittsburg, moved her division to New York, the staff held a formal farewell dinner in her honor attended by 45 of her coworkers.
She was blessed with a healthy life and survived two global pandemics.
Cle was preceded in death by: mother Margret, father Frank, sister Margret Daum, brother Leopold Koberlein and sister Carolyn Schmieler. Cle also was preceded in death by husband Andrew, son Alan, and an infant granddaughter.
Cle is survived by daughter Catherine, son Eric, three grandchildren and two great grandchildren… and, happily known to Cle, a third great grandchild on the way.
Services will be held on what would have been her 103rd birthday: August 25, 2022, at Christ the King Parish, 1400 Gerald Avenue, Missoula, Montana, 59801. 10 AM Funeral Mass, 11:15 AM luncheon.
Interment will be next to husband, Andrew, at San Fernando Mission Cemetery, Mission Hills, California.
In Cle’s memory, in lieu of flowers, the family requests donations to Martha’s Sewing Ministry, c/o Christ the King Parish, 1400 Gerald Avenue, Missoula, MT, 59801.