Category Archives: Obituaries

Gabe Silverman Has Died

Charlottesville developer Gabe Silverman has died.

While in New York City a few weeks ago, he was hospitalized with chest pain, and required a lengthy operation to repair what turned out to be a torn aortic artery. He had been recuperating ever since, with family and friends visiting him, and seemed to be on the mend when he passed away yesterday.

With his business partners, he owned real estate throughout downtown Charlottesville (the Ix building, the Main Street Market, the Amtrak station, and dozens more properties), and was the first developer to invest towards a revitalization of downtown, starting with his 1990 purchase of the Old Michie Building. Famously cantankerous and unpretentious, Gabe clashed on ideological matters with city officials, especially when he felt that he was being prevented from serving larger community needs through his work. To his partners’ constant exasperation, Gabe regarded his real estate holdings as venue for improving Charlottesville and righting societal wrongs. In any discussion, his constant refrain was “OK, but how do we use that to—” as he tried to redirect mundane ideas towards addressing problems of poverty, racism, classism, sexism, and other societal ailments.

His wife, artist and teacher Karen Shea Silverman, died of brain cancer in 2004. Gabe is survived by his two daughters and his grandson. He was 73 years old.

The last discussion that I ever had with him, just six weeks ago, began with me telling him that I needed a small office space for a new business, and concluded with him having persuaded me to use that business to anchor an incubator-style coworking space that he’d provide the space and funding for, in order to establish a downtown hub for socially aware tech firms. He had that sort of effect on people. Before we parted, he emphasized that he didn’t just want to make a small change in Charlottesville: “I’m going to die, you’re going to die, so how do we use this to create a lasting change in Charlottesville?”

I thought there was more time.

Dumler Claims Conspiracy

Scottsville Supervisor Chris Dumler says that a pair of exes are conspiring against him, Samantha Koon writes on the Daily Progress’ unfortunate new website. Dumler was arrested a month ago on charges of forcible sodomy; in a court filing, he contends that he had a wholly consensual sexual relationship with the woman, who collaborated with an ex-girlfriend of Dumler’s in subsequently claiming that he raped her. Police have seized records showing Dumler and his accuser discussing their relationship.

Sidney Tapscott Has Died

Downtown fixture Sidney Tapscott has died. The sweet, cheerful 89-year-old was adopted many years ago by downtown regulars, and passed away yesterday in hospice. During the eighties and nineties he could be seen around the Downtown Mall with a push broom, wearing overalls and bearing a red bandana. The Albemarle native smoked a pipe, played the harmonica, and was the Hogwaller Ramblers’ number-one fan. (Their album opens with him singing, and then introducing “the Tennessee Ramblers.) The Blue Moon Diner—his home away from home—held a big birthday party for him every year. For photos and remembrances, see the Friends of Sidney Tapscott Facebook group, which has almost 1,500 members after just one day of existence.

Pam Melampy Has Died

Former Charlottesville Clerk of Court candidate Pam Melampy died suddenly of an aneurysm on Monday. On Sunday, having a terrible headache, she got checked out at Martha Jefferson Hospital. After a CT scan and an MRI, they sent her to UVA’s neuro ICU, where she died the next day. Melampy was 50 years old. A memorial service will be held at First Baptist Church on Sunday morning at 10 AM.

My family and I have spent a great deal of time in UVA’s neuro ICU in the past two weeks. My mother-in-law likewise experienced a terrible headache exactly two weeks ago, and she also went to Martha Jefferson, which also sent her to UVA, although in her case Martha Jefferson kept her in the waiting room for three hours while her brain bled out. Her body and mind shutting down, UVA diagnosed her with a cerebral hemorrhage (basically an aneurysm). They removed a big chunk of her skull to remove the clot from her brain. And then we waited. The neuro ICU waiting room is a terrible place. Nobody is there for a minor problem. Many people are facing terrible choices of what to do for loved ones. The best news anybody’s liable to get there is “she’s alive right now.” But we got lucky. She lived, she’s regaining functionality, and tomorrow she’ll be moved to HealthSouth to start what’s likely to be weeks of therapy.

There are no warnings for aneurysms, cerebral arteriovenous malformations, or cerebral hemorrhages. If anybody you know ever suddenly experiences the worst headache of his life, get him to the UVA ER immediately, no matter his objections. Tell the ER that it’s an aneurysm, and insist on a CT scan. The odds of surviving an aneurysm isn’t great, but by reacting quickly, the odds improve. Surgery can stop the bleeding, relieve the pressure, and save a life.

Kay Peaslee Has Died

Observer founder Kay Peaslee has died, Bryan McKenzie writes in the Daily Progress. The well-known firebrand and her husband established the weekly in the the seventies, selling it in 1988. (The Observer folded in 2004.) In the mid-nineties, Peaslee spearheaded the unsuccessful movement to revert Charlottesville to a town, to share services with Albemarle County. She moved to Indianapolis in March of 2010, to be near family. She died there, on Tuesday. Kay Peaslee was 89 years old.