Frank Gangel

1925 - 2010

Mepham Loses a Great Friend

By Michelle Dimino

Each day, each one of us takes hundreds of steps around Mepham - up and down staircases, in and out of classrooms, from one club or sports practice to the next. What we don't always realize as we go throughout our daily routine is that we are following in the footsteps of an array of generous, talented Mepham alums dating all the way back to the first graduating class in 1937. Having a school so old and storied, and with such an active and enthusiastic alumni base, is a rare thing on Long Island, and something we should all appreciate. For starters, let me tell you about a man who, like you, loved his family, his friends, and his country. This man,like you, took hundreds of steps around Mepham each day - although only three sides of the Mepham we walk through were standing upon his graduation in 1943. This man never forgot Mepham High School, and Mepham High School will never forget him.

From 1938 through 1943, Mr. Gangel played an integral role in the Mepham community, working diligently as a member of the Skull and Bones Dramatic Society and playing the cornet in the Mepham band. In his time, students received varsity letters for clubs as well as sports, and Mr. Gangel lettered in both.

Frank Gangel Ruth Woodroffe

Shortly after his graduation in 1943, Mr. Gangel enlisted to serve in the United States Army in World War II, leaving behind Ruth Woodroffe, his high school sweetheart and future wife. At Fort Benning, Mr. Gangel studied at a communications school, but was suddenly transferred to the infantry and then to the medical corps, touring Europe in Patton's 3rd Army. He went on to serve in the campaigns of the Ardennes, Central Europe, and the Rhineland. After the war, Mr. Gangel picked up his communications studies at a school in Brooklyn, traveling long distances to see Ms. Woodroffe. The couple eventually tied the knot in the early 1950s, after Ms. Woodroofe graduated with a nursing degree from Adelphi University and took a position there as a visiting nurse. By this time, Mr. Gangel had begun working with his father as a millwright. He would also serve for over two decades in the Fair Harbor Fire Department, reaching the ranks of Second Chief and Captain.

Mr. and Mrs. Gangel would later split their time between their home in Wantagh and the house they built in Lonelyville, Fire Island - but with their generous spirits, their weekend neighborhood was certainly far from living up to its name!

The Gangels were very active in their community. Mr. Gangel served as the President of both the Lonelyville Water Board District and the Tax Payers Association and as the Chairman of the Lonelyville Board of Fire Commissioners.

Although they no longer resided in Bellmore, Frank and Ruth Gangel never forgot their high school community. They went on to establish a scholarship at Mepham in honor of Frank's parents, Mr. and Mrs. Viola and Joe Gangel. When Ruth passed away, the scholarship continued in her memory as well.

The Gangel Family Memorial Award is given annually to two graduating seniors, one male and one female, who plan to pursue studies in the fields of science or engineering. This hearkens back to a lifelong love of these disciplines in both Mr. and Mrs. Gangel's lives.

Ruth Gangel had earned two Master's degrees from Columbia University, and rose to the position of commissioner in the Nassau County Health Department. Frank had always been handy; in the words of his sister, Mrs. Margaret Breen, "He always liked to take things apart and understand how they worked. In Lonelyville, he became the person who could repair or build just about anything. At first, he helped their friends and neighbors, but his reputation spread and his friends persuaded him to start a business, which he operated for several years. He was an independent contractor in the truest sense."

On January 9, 2010, Mr. Frank Gangel passed away. His loss is one that deeply saddens the entire Mepham community, but he and his generosity will never be forgotten here. We send our deepest condolences to Mr. Gange's family and friends, including his two sisters, Mrs. Margaret Breen (Class of 1948) and Ms. June Gangel (Class of 1960), both of whom contributed to this article, as we pay tribute to his memory and give wholehearted thanks for his kindness.

Each day, each one of us takes hundreds of steps around Mepham - up and down staircases, in and out of classrooms, from one club or sports practice to the next. And each day, each one of us should be honored to be following in the footsteps of a man as truly inspirational as Mr. Frank Gangel.

From The Buccaneer, February 2010

Picture Gallery

Click to enlarge images.


Skull & Bones

With June
After Graduation

Off to the
Honeymoon

A Recent
Photo