Gaby Lampert '13, Beloved Daughter and Friend, Dies Unexpectedly
Friends and Family Remember a Loved One
Published: Friday, April 2, 2010
Updated: Thursday, November 15, 2012 01:11
Gabrielle Lampert, a Kenyon first year, died unexpectedly of unknown causes on Tuesday, March 18, in her Manhattan home. She is survived by her father, Jonathan Lampert, and her paternal grandmother, E. Louise Lampert. She was 19 years old.
Gaby was born February 12, 1991, in Manhattan, where she lived her entire life. Her mother died when Gaby was six years old and her father, a psychiatrist and family therapist, raised her. "We were a package deal," he said.
Artist, writer, traveler
Gaby was not an overachiever but devoted her time to subjects she loved learning about - sculpture, languages, music. "She was kind of ballsy, far from demure," said Dr. Lampert. He described her as "a bold and courageous personality and character and thinker." He said she would have admitted that "she had a remarkable sense of style" and a gift for aesthetic, but in other areas, she was exceedingly modest about her many talents.
"She kept several of her talents hidden," Dr. Lampert said. She had been working on a portfolio of sculpture since she was ten years old but he did not see it until she applied to colleges and submitted a small portfolio with each application. He said that he knew she took a sculpture class and later continued with private instruction, but "I never was allowed to go to the studio. And then poof! This body of work emerged. … I was really floored." Gaby used clay, stone and brass and often sculpted figures. "She had a great sense of bodies, of the human figure," Dr. Lampert said.
Gaby had a gift for language, both her own and foreign. In English, "she wrote beautifully and gutsily," Dr. Lampert said. "She was a radical writer and like an urban guerilla in some ways … very tough and very smart, very literate. She loved languages, even though if she were alive today she would say [she was not great at French] even though she spoke extremely well, and you couldn't convince her." Gaby also had studied Spanish and had been interested in studying Arabic.
Gaby loved New York, but "she certainly traveled the world a great deal since she was young," said Dr. Lampert. The family spent time in the south of France, Switzerland and the United Kingdom and traveled widely in Europe; one of Gaby's most recent favorite trips was to Amsterdam. When Gaby was five years old, she was asked where she wanted to go for vacation one day. She said Russia and the Bahamas "and on the list was Ohio," said Dr. Lampert. "I don't know where she got that from. [Ohio] would be the farthest place I assure you we would ever go."
"A social networking power center"
According to her father, Gaby "had a real knack for people" and was always surrounded by many friends. "She was like a social networking power center," he said. "I nowhere near had the capacity at her age to have the depth of relationships with people [she had]. It in general comes much later in life, and she early on had that."
Many of these relationships were with friends she had known since kindergarten, fellow students at Friends Seminary. "Our home was like a combination of a youth hostel, a wayward youth home, drop-in clinic, and we always had tons and tons of kids here," Dr. Lampert said.
Gaby's oldest friend was Val Smosna. Gaby "really was the most important person in my life," said Smosna. "She gave me a lot of confidence. I don't even know how to describe it, but if I could pick anyone who really changed my life, it was her." She described Gaby as smart, strong, generous, always mature in her peer group and, above all, supportive. "She was so strong, so happy. Even when she wasn't happy, she was just really great about doing things for friends, unbelievably so," she said. "She really taught me how to stand up for myself. … She taught me not to accept unnecessary rules, conventions, whatever."
Gaby formed close bonds here at Kenyon as well. "She was an absolutely amazing person," said Tommy Brown '13. "The fact that she could always take a moment for anyone and throw her emotions to the side of the road to help you out, or have a conversation, was amazing. … There was never a dull moment with her."
Lily Miller '13 also commented on Gaby's presence. "Gaby was the kind of person who drew attention wherever she went, not just because of her overload of jewelry and her acid-washed jeans but also because she had this intense energy surrounding her in the way she walked, talked and smiled," Miller said. "She was beyond incredible in every aspect of her life. She was the one who got me to stay out at 4 a.m. on Saturday night and she was also the one who motivated me to pull all-nighters studying with her in Gund. Her energy was just unbeatable."
"She always made things vibrant and fun and beautiful," Brown said. "She had some innate ability to make things genuine around her." Miller said that the conversations she and Gaby had in the breezeway of Mather Residence Hall, Gaby's dormitory, "are some of the most interesting, genuine I have ever had."
The cause of Gaby's death is unknown. According to Dr. Lampert, she was on allergy medicine and since September had taken four sequential courses of antibiotics to treat recurrent pulmonary infections. Otherwise, however, she was in good shape. "Somewhere in the evening she was in bed watching television and that was it," said Dr. Lampert. Her autopsy offered no answers, and the toxicology report has yet to come back. He said that the only cause of death he and doctors can speculate is a "totally unexpected" adverse reaction to medicine.
Gaby was buried last Sunday in Beth David Cemetery in Elmont, Long Island, and her funeral "was packed," Dr. Lampert said. Her father anointed her with her favorite fragrance, and she was buried with notes and mementos from her friends and father and Tibetan Buddhist beads blessed by the Dalai Lama. From all over the United States and from abroad, Gaby's many friends flew in to New York to attend her funeral. "They poured in, they wanted to look at every inch of her room, they wanted every detail of where she was," he said. "They loved her, so deeply as did I - there really are no words to describe the loss. None. Religions all have some perspective on it. None of them are too useful to me. We have to just accept that there are things that we cannot explain, Things that happen that are terrible. We can't invoke some higher explanation.