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Musician played with passion in bands, sports

| Friday, Dec. 28, 2012, 12:01 a.m.

Ryan Gebler's parents knew music would be in his future when they started his piano lessons at 5 and didn't have to beg him to practice.

“With Ryan, we had to tell him to get off the piano,” his father, Tom Gebler, said.

Ryan J. Gebler of Penn Hills died Sunday, Dec. 23, 2012, after a long and difficult bout with a rare form of bone cancer. He was 25.

“He had a zest for life and for people,” his father said. “He was the life of the party.”

Mr. Gebler had a passion for music, playing guitar and piano. He was involved in forming the band The Elderly in high school, which produced an album titled “Long Way Home.”

“Ryan was our leader, the front man ... always on the mic,” said Steve Rossi, formerly of Oakmont, who played saxophone in the band. “He had a lot of emotion in his voice.”

They saved the money they earned from performing to buy studio time and record the album.

“It was a lot of fun,” said Josh Clinton of Penn Hills, who played lead guitar.

A 2006 graduate of Central Catholic High School, Mr. Gebler played basketball, ice hockey and volleyball. During his senior year, he played Officer Brannigan in the drama club's production of “Guys and Dolls.”

“On stage, that was his place,” Tom Gebler said.

At The Catholic University of America in Washington, where he studied psychology, Mr. Gebler helped form the band Downtown Basement. The group was working on its first CD when he began his battle with cancer. He wrote or co-wrote the music and lyrics for the CD, which remains unfinished.

Mr. Gebler graduated in 2010 with a bachelor of arts in psychology and was captain of the hockey team, finishing his career as the university's all-time leading scorer. During his four years there, he was instrumental in a Mason Dixon Conference championship in 2008-09 and a runner-up finish in the Blue Ridge Atlantic Conference in 2009-10.

In addition to his father Tom, Mr. Gebler is survived by his mother, Maureen (Finnegan) Gebler; a brother, Brendan Gebler of Bloomfield, N.J.; a sister, Shannon Gebler, a senior at Ohio State University; and girlfriend Lindsey Costabile.

A Mass of Christian Burial will be celebrated at 12:30 p.m. Friday in St. Joseph Catholic Church, 825 Second Ave., Verona.

Craig Smith is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-380-5646 or csmith@tribweb.com.

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