Written by Margarete Dorsch, Gabriel’s mother, and Viktoria Olskaia, Gabriel’s widow
Gabriel was born in Oakland, California on February 1, 1967, the son of Bader Al-Salem, Kuwait, and Margarete Dorsch, Lindsborg, Kansas, originally from Germany. Already as an infant he lived on three continents.
In August of 1968 he returned, together with his mother, to the United States. He spent the following three years in Springfield, Missouri, where she taught at SMSU. For the next seven years he resided in Columbia, Missouri, while his mother completed graduate studies at MU. There, he started kindergarten and elementary school, attending the University Lab School. These first years were very happy ones. In Columbia, Gabriel and his mother attended many student theater productions and concerts, hiked in the surrounding forest, built waterwheels in the nearby creek or watched the bats flying on warm summer evenings.
In 1978, Gabriel and his mom moved to Lindsborg, Kansas, the town that he would always call home. He was so happy to be a student in the local schools where he participated enthusiastically in various theater productions and enjoyed playing the string bass in the orchestra, first under Mrs. Kathleen Robinson and then under Mr. Dan King. Often, he would leave for school early and return home late after practicing the bass. He did not take direction well, when Mrs. Robinson said: “You basses, just play the beat!” He wanted to have sectional rehearsals for the bass players too! Making music and playing the bass was so important to Gabriel that he had an instrument wherever he lived. And even now, there is a lonely instrument sitting in his last home in Kazakhstan.
Gabriel’s high school senior year was spent mostly in Versailles, France and in part in Berlin, Germany. Upon his return from the year abroad he started his undergraduate studies at KU, majoring in Russian and Political Science. His junior year was spent first in Bonn, Germany, where he had an internship in the German government, specifically in the office of Mr. Egon Bahr (SPD), the specialist for East-West Relations. The second half was spent at the University of Leningrad (today St. Petersburg), where he also began his acquaintance with his future wife, Viktoria Olskaia.
In the year between his graduation from KU in 1989 and the beginning of his graduate studies in Russian Studies at Georgetown University in 1990, he toured with a children’s theater group in the Appalachian Mountains, playing a role that he had always wanted to do: Ebenezer Scrooge in “A Christmas Carol”. Then, in the spring of 1990 he was at a seminar in the Netherlands that dealt with the establishment of the European Union. During the two years at Georgetown, his life again was so rich in special encounters. Besides being a student, he worked as a teaching and research assistant, though, he did not want to make teaching his career. He wanted to be nvolved with people and make a significant difference. His studies prepared him well, especially the fact that he spoke several languages and that he was fluent in Russian. However, what contributed to the success in his profession was his genuine love for people and life, which he lived to the fullest.
On May 23, 1992 Gabriel married Viktoria Olskaia of Saint Petersburg, Russia. The wedding ceremony took place on Coronado Heights. The couple traveled a lot together for work and lived in Kazakhstan, Mongolia, Vietnam, former Yugoslavia, Germany and Russia. As an employee of Ernst&Young, KPMG Consulting, AT Kearney, Gabriel successfully lead international development projects in the area of privatization and economic reform. In 2000 their daughter Anya was born in Washington, DC.
For ten years before his death Gabriel worked for the European Bank of Reconstruction and Development as Director of Business Advisory Services in Central Asia. He lived in Almaty, Kazakhstan, but had offices throughout Central Asia. The effort he made for the consulting industry in Central Asia is immeasurable, as he became the accelerator for the development of business advisory services in Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan, Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan. In September 2010 he received a CMC (Certified Management Consultant) designation. *
Gabriel worked and lived extensively in the US, the former Soviet Union, Eastern and Western Europe and Southeast Asia. He was a native speaker of English and German, possessed near-native fluency in Russian, good knowledge of French, working knowledge of Spanish; he was citizen of the United States and Germany.
Gabriel was an excellent diplomat, a charming man, a very kind person with a big heart, who did his upmost to support any cause for which he felt a commitment. His colleague from Canada, Heather Osler, wrote: “He was larger than life. He adored life and lived it to its fullest. And he always seemed to find the sunny side of every moment, even when there were problems.” Gabriel loved and adored his family, especially his daughter Anya. He always insisted that his time with the family was the most precious. He travelled a lot for work, but he always was eager to come back home for his wife and daughter.
Gabriel loved outdoors and so much enjoyed his time mountaineering, skiing and paragliding. In 2002 he climbed Khan Tengri (the famous and beautiful 21000 feet peak on the border between Kazakhstan and China) and was the first in the world to fly down from Talgar, a 15000 feet peak in the mountains near Almaty. While paragliding is a dangerous sport, he loved being airborne. On November 27, 2015 he tragically died while paragliding in the mountains near Almaty.
*CMC (Certified Management Consultant) is the certification mark awarded by the International Council of Management Consulting Institutes and represents meeting the highest global standards and ethical canons of the profession. See Why hire a CMC?