November 18, 1923 - July 16, 2016
Shavano Park, Texas | Age 92
Without fanfare and with gentle dignity, Gino Narboni, MD, died peacefully at home on Saturday, July 16, 2016.
As a physician, pilot, loving father and husband, Gino brought wisdom and strength to all who knew him. His moral compass never faltered.
Gino was born into a Sephardic Jewish family, in Constantine, Algeria, in 1923. He had a classic French education and planned to attend medical school until the events of WWII changed the course of his life. Drafted in 1943 by the army of the former Vichy French government which had taken power in North Africa, he defected from its forces in May that year to join General de Gaulle's Free French Air Force. While stationed at a remote base in Rayak, Lebanon, Gino learned he had been selected for pilot training in the US. In 1945, he graduated as a member of the Class of 45-C United States Army Air Corps and the French Air Force.
In 1948, as Gino had both a commercial pilot license and a French passport, a recruiter from the pre-state Hagana Jewish underground organization asked Gino to ferry planes and equipment from Europe to Israel during its War for Independence. He became a "Machal" (overseas volunteer) pilot in the Israel Air Force with the rank of captain, ferrying troops and evacuating wounded soldiers during the conflict. When the Israel national airline, EL AL, was launched, he flew first with ARKIA, the domestic airline, and later, internationally, as an EL AL pilot.
In 1952, upon his return to France, Gino resumed medical school. But, from the days of his initial US pilot training, he recognized the special qualities of America, and dreamt of his return. So in 1954, he left medical school once again, and immigrated to the US. He joined the US Air Force, became a citizen, and completed a four-year enlistment as an aircraft engine mechanic. He was honorably discharged as a staff sergeant.
In the next chapter, Gino returned to Paris. And with the GI Bill, in 1961, he finally completed medical school at the University of Paris. After graduation, he spent one year as an intern at the Deaconess Hospital in Buffalo, NY, where he met his future wife, Charlotte Anna Smith, a nursing student. They were married in 1962.
At the conclusion of his internship, Gino rejoined the USAF as a flight surgeon. Twenty-four years later, after serving tours of duty at Edwards AFB, California; in Vietnam, Germany, Wichita Falls, and Colorado Springs, where he was Air Defense Command Surgeon, Gino Narboni retired as a Colonel in the USAF Medical Corps in May 1981. During his career in the USAF, he amassed 750 flight hours and a rating of Chief Flight Surgeon.
While on active duty, Gino completed an internal medicine residency at Letterman General Hospital, San Francisco, and from 1973-1975, he served as a fellow in the Developmental Therapeutics program at MD Anderson Hospital, in Houston, Texas.
Gino Narboni retired from private medical oncology practice in 2002 at the age of 79.
He is survived by his wife of 53 years, Charlotte, and two daughters, Cecile Narboni and Nicole Narboni and son-in-law, Heath Cole.
We are sad and tearful, but we are filled with gratitude to have had Gino in our lives. "Il a replié ses ailes." "He has folded his wings."
FRIDAY, JULY 29, 2016
PORTER LORING NORTH CHAPEL
Interment will follow in Fort Sam Houston National Cemetery.
Because of his life-long, unrealized dream of being a symphony conductor, in 2007, Gino and Charlotte established the Gino R. Narboni Endowed Presidential Scholarship in Orchestral Conducting, at the University of Texas at Austin. In lieu of flowers, memorial gifts may be made to this scholarship, Butler School of Music, College of Fine Arts, University of Texas at Austin. 78712.