3 students receive scholarships created in memory of Genoa farmer who died of cancer

Family hopes scholarship recipients know they have support, foster love of agriculture

Eric J. and Toni Gabriel

SYCAMORE – The DeKalb County Community Foundation has announced the creation of the Eric J. Gabriel Memorial Scholarship Fund.

The fund was created by the family of Eric J. Gabriel, who died Aug. 2, 2023, after a lengthy battle with cancer.

The scholarship contributes to the educational expenses of graduating seniors from Genoa-Kingston, Somonauk and Sycamore high schools in DeKalb County who have been involved in FFA. They may pursue a degree in agriculture or certification in the trades immediately after high school.

Eric and his wife, Toni, met through his time volunteering for FFA. It was this joint passion for agricultural education that they raised their two children with and what led to the development of this scholarship in his honor. His family hopes that those who earn the scholarship know they have support in their community and foster a love of agriculture, according to a news release.

Eric J. Gabriel
Eric J. Gabriel

Eric was a lifelong resident of DeKalb County, leaving briefly only to attend the University of Illinois, where he earned his bachelor’s degree in farm business management. Eric spent his lifetime farming, volunteering for organizations such as his church and local FFA chapters, and golfing. His children are proud to have a father who loved them deeply and taught them so much about farming.

“Being entrusted with helping to carry on the legacies of people who made a difference in our community is one of our greatest honors,” DCCF Executive Director Dan Templin said in a news release. “This fund aligns with Eric’s passions and will help students for many years to come.”

The Eric J. Gabriel Memorial Scholarship distributed its inaugural award in May. The recipients include Taylor Fry of Genoa-Kingston High School, Miranda Ciesielczyk of Somonauk High School and Madyson Block of Sycamore High School.

Donations to any fund at DCCF, including the Eric J. Gabriel Memorial Scholarship Fund, can be made online at dekalbccf.org/donate or by mail to the DeKalb County Community Foundation, 475 DeKalb Ave., Sycamore, IL 60178. For questions or to start your charitable fund, contact Templin at 815-748-5383 or dan@dekalbccf.org.

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