GHS ‘grieves over loss of young life’

Enterprise file photo — Michael Koff 

Runner Gabby Cusato competed, this February, in the 800-meter event in track and field.

GUILDERLAND — Fifteen-year-old Gabriella Cusato, described by her family in a tribute as a “true spark of joy that blessed the lives of many,” died early Saturday morning, Nov 23, 2019. She was a sophomore at Guilderland High School. 

Her personality was “caring and electric,” her family wrote. 

Gabriella, or Gabby, as she was widely known, was born to parents Karen and Patrick Cusato on Jan. 26, 2004, the second in a set of quadruplets. The births of the Cusato quadruplets were covered by the media including The Enterprise

She was “a vivacious, warmhearted, and outgoing young woman whose fun-loving energy was contagious,” her family wrote. “Her electric personality filled the room and she could get a smile out of anybody.”

Gabby had an unparalleled devotion to her loved ones and to her passions, which included art and athletics, her family wrote; she had competed in high school running at an elite level since the seventh grade. 

“Outside of athletics,” her family wrote, “Gabby cherished time with her close friends and family, and had a special appreciation for nature and animals. She always dreamt of moving to the beach, spending her days carefree by the water with lots of pets, and enjoying night-life.” 

Her maturity and intuitiveness made her wise beyond her years, the tribute said, and “she will be missed by everyone whose lives she has touched.” 

 

— Posted by Gabriella Cusato on her YouTube page in September.


 

Master Robert Rice of Guilderland Martial Arts wrote to The Enterprise of Gabriella, who trained at the school for many years, “Gabby was a great Taekwondo student. She always had a positive attitude and a smile in class. She enjoyed training with her siblings very much. She had a way of making others happy as they practiced with her. Our thoughts are with her family and that they can be at peace.” 

Sally Lizotte, a former teaching assistant at Lynnwood Elementary, which the Cusato children attended, told The Enterprise that Gabby Cusato was “the mother hen for the four quads.” She was always looking out for her siblings, Mrs. Lizotte said, and would step up for them if needed. “She was always very nurturing to her siblings,” she recalled. 

The superintendent of the Guilderland school district, Marie Wiles, wrote in an email message to the school community, “The Guilderland Central School District community is heartbroken over this terrible news. We grieve for the loss of a young life and our thoughts remain with Gabriella’s family and friends and all who were touched by her life.” 

Wiles told The Enterprise that Monday, the first day back after the school community learned of Gabby’s death, was a “tough day, very sad, very subdued.” 

Gabby had been “well known, well liked, and well connected,” Wiles said. 

The superintendent said school counselors, psychologists, social workers, and therapy dogs had been on hand in the school’s large-group-instruction room all day and that they had been “busy pretty much all day long” with students coming by to talk during a time of “profound loss.” 

Wiles went on, “Our role today is to provide students an opportunity to talk about their feelings in a safe environment, to know there are trusted adults they can talk to about their feelings today, tomorrow, and into the future.” 

****

Gabriella Cusato is survived by her parents, Patrick and Karen, her siblings, Francesca, Anthony, Victoria, Robert, and William Cusato; her grandmother, Patricia Piccirillo, her Uncle Bob, Aunt Carolyn, and cousins Marisa and Laura Piccirillo. She is also survived by her Uncle Victor, Aunt Cathy and cousins Daniel and Gianna Cusato, Uncle Gary, Aunt Marie Freeman and cousin Casey LeCuyer.

Her maternal grandfather, Anthony Piccirillo, her paternal grandparents, Frank and Marylyn Cusato, and several aunts, uncles, and cousins died before her. 

Her family wrote, “To all of our loving family and friends who took care of Gabby from the day we brought her and her siblings home, we are sincerely grateful.” 

Calling hours were held on Tuesday, Nov. 26, at St. Madeleine Sophie Church in Guilderland followed by a Mass.

Memorial contributions may be made to the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention — Capital Region, Post Office Box Box 486, East Greenbush, New York 12061, or the Alzheimer’s Association, 405 Pine West Plaza, Albany, New York 12205. 

— Elizabeth Floyd Mair 

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