Not everybody rescues a dog on an elevator.
Gabrielle Weisberg did. She took in a puppy after talking with a stranger on an elevator — a terminally ill woman with a dog named Riley, a Maltipoo she was about to take to a shelter because of her illness.
The woman was worried about who would love Riley after she was gone.
“Mom took her that day,” said Mrs. Weisberg’s daughter Danielle.
With an empathy that drew people out, Mrs. Weisberg became a top Baird & Warner real estate broker, selling multimillion-dollar listings on Chicago’s Gold Coast.
She also devoted time to the Service Club of Chicago, one of the city’s oldest women-run charitable organizations. She worked on its philanthropic committee, listening to the many appeals that came in, then helping make tough decisions on which organizations would get assistance.
“This is the type of woman who said, ‘I want to be a member’ — and she shows up for you,” said Tracey DiBuono, the Service Club’s president.
“She was very philanthropic,” said Richard Druker, a managing broker at Baird & Warner, who said she also was involved with PAWS Chicago and the Gold Coast Neighbors Association.
Mrs. Weisberg, 60, died Sunday in Chicago from complications of kidney cancer, according to her husband Donald.
She grew up in Olympia Fields, where she learned to swim at the Olympia Fields Country Club.
Her father Gabriel Aprati was a defense attorney. Her mother Pierre, who was born in Grottammare, Italy, came to Chicago Heights as a child, had a flair for the stage and performed around Chicago as an ingenue with an Italian repertory theater company.
“I think my mom got her grace and her charisma from” her, said Danielle Weisberg. “People were naturally drawn to her.”
Young Gabrielle attended Infant Jesus of Prague grade school in Flossmoor and Rich Central High School. At 16, she won national championships riding American Saddlebred show horses for Windy Hill Farm in Frankfort.
She went on to study psychology at Stephens College in Columbia, Missouri.
When he met her at Alexander’s Restaurant on Huron Street, her future husband Donald was struck by her elegance and beauty.
“We went out the next night after we met, and we never quit going out,” he said.
They were married in 1992.
Focused and energetic, she was an example to her daughter Danielle, co-CEO and founder of theSkimm newsletter and media company.
“She told me the worst thing that any person can say is no,” Danielle Weisberg said. “And if they do, it’s not that big a deal. She gave me a lot of examples about how to be an entrepreneur and be an even better person.”
She taught her daughter Jordyn, who’s about to graduate from college, that it’s good for a woman to have her own bank account.
“She was teaching me how to be independent,” said Jordyn Weisberg, whose name came from a character in “Cocktail,” a 1988 movie that her mother loved.
Mrs. Weisberg enjoyed all of the “Real Housewives” TV shows and the Dick Wolf-produced lineup of “Law & Order: SVU,” “Chicago Fire,” “Chicago Med” and ‘Chicago P.D.” She adored disco music, especially KC & the Sunshine Band. Some of her favorite trips were to Positano, Italy, and the Greek island of Santorini.
She always had a fresh blowout and wore chic ensembles in black.
“She was very poised and very cool, very knowledgeable,” said Druker, adding that, selling real estate, “She didn’t make you feel she was beating you over the head. She was really good at the art of persuasion.”’
Mrs. Weisberg drove fast, but she also liked walking around the Magnificent Mile and Rush Street.
She liked using FaceTime to “visit” her daughters by phone.
And she appreciated this advice quote: “Twenty years from now, you will be more disappointed by the things you didn’t do than by the ones you did. So throw off the lowlines. Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails.”
Mrs. Weisberg is also survived by her brothers Michael and Jeffrey. Visitation is planned at 9:30 a.m Friday at Holy Name Cathedral, 735 N. State St., with a funeral Mass there at 10:30 a.m.
CONTRIBUTING: Shia Kapos