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August 25, 2003

Harry A. Gampel, UConn Alumnus,
Benefactor, Dies At 83

Harry A. Gampel, a UConn alumnus and longtime philanthropist for whom the sports arena in Storrs is named, died Aug. 2 in Aventura, Fla. He was 83.

Gampel, who had lived in Florida for the past 20 years, graduated from UConn in 1943 with a bachelor of science degree in industrial management. His $1 million gift helped finance the Gampel Pavilion, which is home to the men's and women's basketball teams.

Harry A. Gampel joins in the ribbon cutting for the pavilion that bears his name.

Harry Gampel, center, and then-Gov. William A. O'Neill, cut the ribbon for the opening of Gampel Pavilion in 1990. They were joined by Gampel's wife, Edith, and then-UConn President John T. Casteen III (right). Gampel, who donated $1 million for the sports pavilion, died August 2.

"Mr. Gampel's generosity helped pave the way for UConn's athletics teams to have an excellent home court advantage at the Harry A. Gampel Pavilion," said Jeff Hathaway, director of athletics. "His generosity to both the University and the athletics department will endure for many years."

In addition, the plaza in front of the pavilion and the student center at UConn's Greater Hartford campus bear the Gampel name. Gampel also endowed athletics scholarships and a fund benefiting the insurance program at the School of Business.

"He was very proud of his UConn affiliation," said former UConn president Harry Hartley. "He was a true benefactor and a wonderful, warm, and giving person."

Gampel received an Honarary Doctorate of Laws from the University in 1993, and was inducted into the School of Business's Hall of Fame the same year.

Born in Hartford, Gampel spent 17 years in the steel business as owner of City Iron Works, makers of structural steel for buildings and bridges. He later became a successful developer of shopping centers, condominiums and apartments, and office and industrial buildings in the northeast and in Florida. His accomplishments included prize-winning buildings such as One Boca Place in Boca Raton, and Presidential Circle and the Hallmark in Hollywood, Fla.

Gampel was active in many cultural, educational, and Jewish organizations throughout the United States, receiving many honors.

He was awarded the Silver Medallion Brotherhood Award from the National Conference of Christians and Jews, and the Jewish Federation of South Broward, Fla., named him the "South Broward Businessman of the Year."

In 1994, he and his wife Edith received the Presidential Leadership Award on behalf of the State of Israel, the Jewish community, and Aventura Turnberry Jewish Center. In 1996, Gampel was awarded the Humanitarian Prize of Jerusalem by former Mayor Ehud Olmert. And he was honored by the Turnberry Hadassah and the American Committee of the Weizmann Institute of Science in 2002.

Gampel was director of the Broward Center for the Performing Arts in Fort Lauderdale, and served on many other boards, including Fort Lauderdale's Nova Southeastern University, the Fort Lauderdale Art Museum, the Simon Wiesenthal Center in Florida, and the Weizmann Institute of Science in Israel.

The Gampel family has strong connections to the University. Two of Gampel's daughters, Margo Absher '70, and Debra Fischman '85, and a granddaughter, Tracy Shapiro '96, hold degrees from UConn.

Gampel is survived by his wife Edith; four daughters; six granddaughters and a grandson; and two sisters.

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