As you may know, Gabriel was the brother of our board member Francisco Solano and was the subject of the recently published story “Touched by an Angel: How One Latino Reclaimed a West Side Detroit Polish-American Neighborhood.” The story was first published in La Prensa, laprensatoledo.com. Subsequent publications followed in The Polish Weekly ( Hamtramck , MI ) and The Post Eagle ( Clifton , NJ ), and the story is forthcoming in The Citizen ( Hamtramck , MI ).
Although our society has barely gotten off the ground, Stas’ Wisniach, president, and I feel that Gabriel was the rock of our organization. He was the current that kept the positive energy flowing in the west side community in which he lived.
I spoke to him on the phone early last week, and he was very concerned about an elderly Polish lady in the neighborhood who was being taken advantage of by her tenant, and who had also recently been the victim of a scam involving the repair of her car, which resulted in her car being stolen. He asked me how he could become her legal guardian and was intent on protecting her from any further abuse.
I last spoke to him on the phone on Thursday evening, and he told me that he had embarked upon yet another new mission. There is a small park in the neighborhood near the schoolyard, and Gabriel was concerned because lately it was attracting young gang members who had grown accustomed to hanging out there. He said that he had come up with an idea and had spoken to the PTA about it.
It had been suggested that a basketball court be constructed in the park, but Gabriel was against it, saying that it would only add to the problem of loitering. Gabriel's idea was to build a monument there in memory of a young man who had recently been victimized and killed and to name the park after him. He felt that this would ensure the deterrence of gang activity. He was also in the process of organizing a spring clean-up day in the neighborhood and was trying to find out how he could purchase paper wholesale so that he could get flyers out to everyone in the community.
This was the essence of Gabriel Solano. He never stopped looking out for others and never stopped working for the good of his community. He leaves behind a wife and young daughter and son. Please keep him and his family in your prayers.
Arrangements are still not finalized. Anyone wishing to send condolences to Gabriel’s family can do so care of his brother: Francisco Solano, 7387 St. John Street , Detroit , MI 48210 .
With love and attention,
Author of Touched by an Angel and Board Member of West Side Detroit Dom Polski Historical Society