The Gabriels have always been a close family. The family of 8, which includes 6 girls who are close in age, is used to the attention they attract.
“Our maiden name was Gabriel and even the priest at our parents’ church joked with our mom and dad,” said Beth Diefendorff, nurse clinician in hematology/oncology. “He referred to us as the ‘Gabriel Angels.’ We teased our father that it must be like heaven on Earth with 6 girls to spoil him. Dad always answered that he felt lucky to have all of us.”
Over the years, the sisters have stayed close, with 3 of the Gabriel sisters pursuing careers at Akron Children’s. In 1985, Sue Buskey, accreditation manager, was the first Gabriel sister to join Children’s. Sue liked working at the hospital so much that she encouraged her sister, Beth, to apply. Later, Beth, who was hired in 1987, heard about a newly created position as patient educator in hematology/oncology services. She immediately thought of her sister, Carla Lukens, who was trained as a schoolteacher. Carla applied and was hired in 2008.
Celebration of siblings
Outside of work, the sisters saw each other a lot before the pandemic. Now that they and their family members have all received COVID-19 vaccines, they hope to start socializing again.
“We all live close, within 15 minutes of each other,” Sue said. “Most weekends before COVID-19, we hosted a ‘supper club’ at a restaurant or one of our homes with our family members, including our sisters Cindy, Paula and Allie. Sometimes, our parents, who both recently turned 90, would join us.”
Although the sisters need little prompting to party, there is a celebration tailor-made for them on Saturday, April 10. It’s called National Siblings Day, a holiday that celebrates the relationships of brothers and sisters.
“There are only 11 years between our oldest sister and our youngest,” Carla said. “We know how lucky we are. We’re like best friends.”
Importance of family
From a young age, the sisters were taught the importance of family and being there for each other through good and bad times.
“Our Mom and Dad laid the ground rules,” Beth said. “They are loving, selfless people. They taught us to be there for each other, no matter what.”
Loving what they do at Children’s
The enthusiasm that Sue, Beth and Carla bring to Children’s has spread to the next generation of their families, as well as to their extended family members.
Sue’s daughter, Emily Buskey, works at Children’s as a fluoroscopy specialist in radiology diagnostic imaging. Additionally, the sisters have a cousin, Doug Straight, a licensed professional clinical counselor in the pediatric psychiatry and psychology division, and his wife, Michele Straight, patient relations manager in legal risk management and compliance.