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Oblate Father Daniel Gambet, longtime president at De Sales University, former instructor at Salesianum School, dies at 92

Father Daniel Gambet

By De Sales University

It is with sadness but hope in the resurrection that we share the news of the death of Father Daniel G. Gambet, OSFS, president emeritus of De Sales University, on Feb. 28, 2022.

Originally from Toledo, Ohio, Fr. Gambet was born June 9, 1929, to the late Irving and Katherine Gambet né Glanville. He attended Blessed Sacrament grade school and Central Catholic High School in Toledo, graduating in 1947.

After graduation, Fr. Gambet entered the Oblates and made his first profession of vows on September 8, 1948. He was ordained in 1957 at St. Anthony of Padua Church on June 8, 1957. He earned his bachelor of arts degree from Niagara University, a master of arts degree from The Catholic University of America, and a doctorate in classical studies from the University of Pennsylvania.

From 1957 to 1958, Fr. Gambet taught Latin, French, and religion at Father Judge High School in Philadelphia and from 1958 until 1963, Latin and French at Salesianum High School in Wilmington, where he also served as prefect of discipline.

In 1965, Fr. Gambet began his career at DeSales University, serving as academic dean and a teacher of history and Latin. From 1972 until 1978, he was provincial of the Wilmington/Philadelphia Province of the Oblates of St. Francis de Sales.

In 1978, Fr. Gambet became the second president of DeSales University, serving until his retirement in 1999. Under his leadership, the University underwent tremendous growth in academic reputation and in size. The student body grew from 850 to 2,300; graduate education was introduced as well as a broad spectrum of undergraduate majors.

In addition, physical facilities were greatly expanded; funds under management reached the $25 million benchmark; more than $30 million had been raised for capital projects, endowments, and scholarships; and the budget was balanced in each of the 20 years of Fr. Gambet’s tenure.

In retirement, Fr. Gambet maintained an office at the University as president emeritus and assisted the school with fundraising and community relations. He was active in a number of local and regional organizations, including serving as a trustee of the Harry C. Trexler Trust and a board member of Channel 39, Lehigh Valley PBS. He was also a board member of the Executive Service Corps of the Lehigh Valley, a trustee of the Keystone Nazareth Charitable Foundation, and an executive board member of the Minsi Trails Council, BSA.

During his years as president of the University, Fr. Gambet served on the boards of the Pennsylvania Association of Colleges and Universities, CICU, the Association of Independent Colleges and Universities of Pennsylvania, and Lehigh Valley Hospital. He was also a director of the Pennsylvania Power and Light Company.

An in-demand public speaker in the Lehigh Valley and beyond, Fr. Gambet spoke at nearly every local community group, diocesan function, and parish event, always starting with one of the thousands of jokes and stories that he collected.

Among his many honors are:

  • Distinguished Citizen Award, Minsi Trails Council of the Boy Scouts
  • Distinguished Community Service Award from the Lehigh County Senior Citizens’ Center
  • Greater Northeastern Chapter of the National Society of Fund Raising Executives Outstanding Fund Raising Executive Award
  • Francis J. Michelini Award for Outstanding Service in Pennsylvania private higher education in 2000
  • Lifetime Achievement Award from the Eastern PA Chapter of the Association of Fundraising Professionals
  • Raoul W. Wallenberg Award from the Institute for Jewish-Christian Understanding at Muhlenberg College.

Fr. Gambet also received honorary degrees from Lehigh and Moravian universities, and Lafayette and Muhlenberg colleges.