Gabriel “Bucky” DeSimone had a friendly manner that made people instantly like him — and buy life insurance from him. Out of 200,000 Prudential agents, he was seventh in overall sales one year. Bucky did well for himself, but he also used his easygoing charm and instant likeability for the good of others.
Bucky and his wife Jean loved ballroom dancing and often entertained nursing home residents with their skill on the dance floor. Bucky and Jean also danced in the lounges of the Atlantic City casinos. There, when the musicians took their breaks, Bucky would sidle up to them and start talking, and soon enough he would be talking about a benefit he was organizing. Consequently, many professional casino entertainers spent their days off playing for Catholic nursing home residents.
Bucky was devoted to Our Lady’s Multi-Care in Pleasantville, where he got to know the residents and staff while his mother lived there. He volunteered at the facility and chaired the building committee which funded improvements and an expansion.
He served as president of the St. Thomas Aquinas Holy Name Society and was a member of the Knights of Columbus and the Serra Club. He was a Eucharistic Minister and lector of Our Lady Star of the Sea Church in Atlantic City, and he made an annual retreat in Malvern, Pa., for more than 50 years. And he and Jean, who were married for 62 years, were regulars at the Diocesan Wedding Anniversary Mass.
Born in South Philadelphia, Bucky secured a federal grant to help build a drug rehabilitation center there. He also ran the South Philadelphia Lions Club Little League for many years.
Like many other local Catholics who have been profiled in this 75th anniversary series, Bucky not only served the church in a notable way, but he felt privileged to do so.
He was a World War II veteran who took part in the D-Day invasion of Normandy. He died Aug. 18, 2009, at the age of 84.