Gabriel Michael Wilner
Bernstein Funeral Home and Cremation Services
3195 Atlanta Highway
Athens, GA
Athens - Gabriel Michael Wilner, Professor of Law at the University of Georgia, died unexpectedly at his home on Friday, May 21, 2010.
He is survived by his loving and devoted wife of 40 years, Gisele Gabrielle Desmedt Wilner; and his nephews, Serge of London, England, and Axel, Yvan and Julien of Brussels, Belgium, and their wives and children.
Beloved professor, mentor and friend, he inspired hundreds of students with his love for the law, international principles of engagement and cultural understanding. Professor Wilner was the Charles H. Kirbo Professor of International Law and the Associate Dean and Executive Director of Graduate Legal Studies at the University of GeorgiaÕs Dean Rusk Center for International Law and an internationalist who strove to open the world to his students.
Born in Beirut, Lebanon, in 1938 to Abraham and Rebecca Wilner, Professor Wilner had lived in the United States, France, Belgium, Brazil, Ecuador and India. After receiving his undergraduate degree from William & Mary College, he studied at the University of Exeter in England, got his L.L.B. and LL.M at Columbia University in New York and did his graduate legal studies at the Université Libre de Bruxelles. He was admitted to the Bars of the State of New York and the District of Columbia.
His law practice experience included work at the United Nations, the Legal Department of the American Arbitration Association and at a private law office in Brussels. He taught at the University of Florida, Emory University and the University of Georgia, as well as the Université de Jean Moulin in Lyon, France, at IMEDE in Lausanne, Switzerland, and at the University of Turin, Italy. He initiated and directed the Masters of Law Program at the University of Georgia and instituted the Brussels Seminar on European Law, a program for American students which is in its 37th year of operation.
He directed numerous law programs and seminars in many parts of the world. A member of the American Society of International Law Association and the American Bar Association, Professor Wilner was the author of numerous law publications and served on several advisory boards of publications such as the Journal of Maritime Law & Commerce and the Columbia Journal of International Law.
A memorial service for Professor Wilner will be held at the Bernstein Funeral Home in Athens, Ga., on Friday, May 28, 2010, at 11 a.m. In lieu of flowers, his family suggests a donation to the National Kidney Foundation, 30 East 33rd St., New York, NY 10016.
Online condolences may be offered at
Bernstein Funeral Home is in charge of arrangements.
Published by Athens Banner-Herald on May 25, 2010.
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Funeral services provided by:
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Dearest Giselle,
This is Ikomi. I have just, this moment, read with utter shock, the news of Gabe's passing. I went online and googled his name so I could find a phone number to call him and you. I have been away working in Africa for many years now and did lose contact with both of you.

I am deeply saddened by Gabe's passing and would like to know where you are (Brussels or Athens) so I could schedule a visit sometime soon.

Gabe was more than a professor, mentor or friend to me. Both of you had become family to me. You both opened your hearts and home to me and made me welcome in your homes in Brussels and Athens.

I shall never forget the love and caring Gabe showered me with. My heart is broken with this news of his passing. I will mourn him in my own very personal way and share his memory with all my family and loved ones.

If you read this message Giselle, please do get in touch with me at [email protected] My love and heartfelt sympathy for your painful loss go to you and your family.

Ikomi Ngongi (Kinshasa, Democratic Republic of Congo)
Ikomi Ngongi
January 19, 2011
Dear Giselle,
I met Gabe 50 years ago, in law school. We lived across from each other, at Furnald Hall, the Freshman dorm. We immediately bonded. Gabe was different, interested in the world's laws, an Internationalist. It was a refreshing change from the competitiveness of NYC. And Gabe had a refinement, interested in Chopin, Jefferson, and a fine cut of cloth.
While I rarely saw Gabe in recent years, he had a profound effect on me--I thought of him often.

His love for you was deep and enduring, a golden bond that could not be broken in life.

When Gabe's heart broke, mine did too.

The good he did for people will last for generations.

We will grieve together, Giselle.

Stanley Fineman
June 11, 2010
Dear Gisele - I deeply saddened to know that Gabe has passed on. Both of you have been in my heart these past months and your friendship, warmth and love was so strongly felt by all the Finleys when Dad passed in March. The losses are impossible, but I am comforted by thoughts of the two old friends reunited and watching over us. Sending you so much love, Evy Finley Erb & family
June 11, 2010
Like me, many people in India remember Professor Gabriel Wilner for his scholarship and generosity. They are sad to know that they have lost an eminent scholar, great friend and wonderful human being. They share grief with Gisele and pray for eternal peace to the departed soul.
Yogesh Tyagi
Dean, School of International Studies
Professor of International Law
Jawaharlal Nehru University
New Delhi
Yogesh Tyagi
June 5, 2010
Dear Gisele:
I only heard of Gabe's passing a few days ago and wanted to belatedly express my deepest sympathy. Gabe was very much part of my early career at the Southern Center for International Studies and played an important part in establishing the new organization. His intellect, deep knowledge of international law and wide contacts, made him a mentor and role model for generations of lawyers in Atlanta and around the world. He will be sorely missed by the legal community and his many friends.
On a personal level, I, Wendy and our children still remember fondly the Belgium chocolates you both brought back to us at the end of each summer program.
My thoughts are with you at this time.
Cedric Suzman
Cedric Suzman
June 3, 2010
Dear Giselle, from a Spanish student who had the priviledge to enjoy from Professor Wilner's generosity, wisdom, humour, enthusiasm and tolerance both in Brussels and Athens, my thoughts, support and memory, always...
Ainhoa Veiga-Torregrosa
ainhoa veiga-torregrosa
June 1, 2010
Dear Gisele: I am shocked and dismayed to learn of Gabriel's passing. His kindness and generosity to me when I met him first over 30 years ago, and on so many occasions since then, were matched only by his amazing intellect, his humility and his constant efforts to help his students and his friends. He had a way of making people feel special and of bringing the best out in people, also of getting them to see things from a different angle. I owe him so much and know that he had this impact on so many people. He really was a rare being, one in a million. My heart goes out to you at this impossibly difficult time. Daryl Buffenstein
Daryl Buffenstein
May 31, 2010
Dear Giselle, I am so sad. Our beloved Gabe. How you both opened the world to this girl from Jersey. Even more than that you both taught me tolerance, kindness, generosity and love at a time in my young life when I needed that and could absorb the lessons. I strive to do you both justice every day. Love, Mary Kay
May 30, 2010
I was so saddened to hear about Professor Wilner's passing. So many of my fondest memories of my time at UGA and the Brussels seminar are due to Professor Wilner. He was such a gentle and caring man who always took time to get to know his students. His passion for international law was truly inspiring. I am thankful that I met Professor Wilner at such a formative point in my education and career. My thoughts and prayers are with you and your family.
Kristin Case
May 29, 2010
Dear Gisele,
I was greatly stunned and saddened by the news of Professor Wilner’s passing. He was the consummate mentor as well as a trusted guide during the final two years of my law school experience. Without his sage advice and generous counsel, I may never have graduated. It can be said without exaggeration that the world is a much richer place because of his contributions to it. My deepest and sincerest condolences go out to you and your family.
Tony Wong
May 28, 2010
Une petite pensée spéciale et sincère pour vous. Condoléances et amitiés, Magasin Catleya, Place Brugmann, Bruxelles
May 28, 2010
It is with great sadness that we learned of the sudden death in Athens, Georgia, of our dear friend and colleague Professor Gabriel Wilner. It is never easy to say goodbye to someone who meant a lot to you and whom you have come to love. It is as if part of yourself has left the world, leaving a void that feels heavy to carry. This is certainly the feeling of many around the world for whom Gabriel has been a teacher, a mentor and a friend.

With his limitless passion for education and commitment to other people, Gabriel has guided generations of students through their academic lives, their professional lives and often their personal lives, and in that way he tirelessly and generously contributed to making the world a better place, also by conquering ignorance and adding nuance to reflection and action. He was a bridge between the academic worlds of Europe and the Americas, teaching on both sides of the Atlantic and fostering contacts between academics and professionals. His contributions to the Brussels LL.M program on International Legal Cooperation were highly appreciated by students and colleagues, and his "Brussels Seminar" on European integration has become one of those rare, high level and intense training courses that attracts a truly international faculty and stimulates learning and reflection in the best of academic traditions. Gabriel served as an inspiration to many and his footprints can be found on every continent of our planet.

We know that these are particularly difficult times for you, Gisele. You were his life long partner and your souls intertwined in great togetherness and intimacy. You enjoyed life together, you always stood by his side, and helped him through his difficult moments with humour, wisdom and compassion. Our thoughts and feelings are with you and we send you our silent support from all over the world.

Dear Gabriel, with every journey that ends, a new journey starts, and with all our love we wish you good luck on that new journey.

Farewell, dearest friend, farewell.

Servaas van Thiel, Geneva
Tony Joris, Brussels
Servaas van Thiel
May 28, 2010
Chère Gisèle
Toutes mes condoléances pour la perte de notre cher Gabriel . C' était un ami et un collègue de grande qualité , aimé par ses étudiants et tous ceux qu 'il rencontrait ;
Je suis rès triste de cette nouvelle et je t'adresse mes amitiés les plus cordiales .
Michel Vanden Abeele
May 28, 2010
Dear Gisele,
I was shocked to hear of Gabe's sudden death. He affected many lives and his influence on the lawyers he helped train will continue for decades to come. I am pleased to have considered him a friend and sad that it has been too long since I have had the chance to enjoy his (and your) company. Please know that your loss is shared among many.
Ron Brand, University of Pittsburgh School of Law
Ron Brand
May 27, 2010
I offer my condolences Mrs. Wilner. Prof. Wilner was truly a remarkable and generous man. He served as an inspiration to us, his LL.M. students, and was truly influential in our lives. My prayers are with you and your family.
Emma Ramirez
May 27, 2010
Dear Gisele,

It is with a great sense of loss when I heard of Professor Wilner's death.

I want to let you know that you have my greatest sympathy, and my heart is truly saddened.

Professor Wilner was more than just a wonderful person;he was always so kind and considerate to us as students that we always welcomed seeing him at every opportunity. I know that his passing will not only leave a void in my life, but in the hearts of all those who knew him.

Prof. Wilner will always remain within our hearts,and i have included him and you in my daily prayers. May God give you strength.

My sincere thoughts and prayers are with you.

With my deepest sympathy,

Annemary Wanyana
LLM CLASS 2007/2008
Annemary Wanyana
May 27, 2010
Chère Madame Wilner,

Juste un petit mot pour vous dire comme je pense beaucoup à vous dans ces moments difficiles et que je regretterai beaucoup Monsieur Wilner. C'était quelqu'un que j'appréciais énormément aussi bien au niveau professionnel qu'au niveau humain. Je penserai souvent à lui et à nos longues conversations dans le jardin de l'Institut, l'été ne sera plus jamais le même sans lui ici à l'ULB. Je vous souhaite beaucoup de courage pour surmonter cette terrible épreuve

Avec toute mon amitié

Françoise Vanden Broeck
vanden broeck francoise
May 27, 2010
Brussels, May 26, 2010
Dear Colleague,
On behalf of the whole Faculty of the Institute for European Studies of the Université libre de Bruxelles (ULB), I would like to send you our condoleances after professor Gabriel M.
Wilners' death.
Gabriel was a friend for many of us.
As organizer of the annual Brussels Seminar on EU Law and Institutions, he has built bridges between the two free universities of Brussels, ULB and VUB, and between the two sides of
the Atlantic.
His whole academie career, as Director of the Dean RuskCenter, Kirbo Chair and Associate
Dean, is an example of scientific excellence, international networking and passion for teaching the next generations.
Your loss is the loss for Belgium too and for the hundreds of U.S. and non-U.S. students who took part into the Brussels seminar.
On his funerals' eve, we share Gisele's and their nephews' deep sadness.
Please forward to them the condoleances from their friends of the Institute for European Studies of ULB.
Yours sincerely,
Prof. Marianne DONY,
President Institute of European Studies
Institute for European Studies Université Libre de Bruxelles
May 27, 2010
Institut d'études européennes Université Libre de Bruxelles
May 27, 2010
I am in shock of the sad demise of one man who served as an inspiration in the legal field, a man who wielded immense knowledge of the law, a man who made studying law at UGA home far away from home, a man who took part in shaping my career in international law, may his soul rest in peace. We pray for strength for the family in this difficult and grieving moments. Matasi Martin Walela, LL.M CLASS 2007/2008
May 26, 2010
Dear Gisele, Gabe was a pioneer, generous and patient with all of us who were trying to learn a small portion of what he knew and taught. He shared his deep knowledge, great sense of humor and good judgement with anyone who asked for help. His students and colleagues will keep his memory alive. I always smile when I think of him. We will all miss and honor him. John Gornall
May 26, 2010
I was deeply saddened to hear about Professor Wilner’s passing.
I was an LLM student in Professor Wilner’s Graduate Program in the 1994-95 academic year, and a student in his International Law class. I enjoyed attending his class immensely. He was always full of advice, insights and encouragement when we discussed my career plans. The year I spent in this program that he so much loved has had a profound impact on my studies and my career. I will always treasure the time spent at the Law School, the long conversations with Professor Wilner and the many teachings he gave us students. My deepest condolences to Professor Wilner’s wife Gisele and to his family.
Claudia Giunta
Claudia Giunta
May 26, 2010
Dear Gisele, I was so sad to hear of Gabriel´s passing. I feel blessed for having met him and I´m very proud for having him and you as my friends. He was a great professor, friend and an incredible human being. I cannot begin to express the immense impact he had on my life. Please know that you are both in my prayers.
Dennis Rios
May 26, 2010
Dear Gisèle, I was shocked when I heard the sad news! It brought back all the good memories from my LL.M. days at UGA in 1985/86 when I met Gabe and found such a good mentor and inspiring lecturer in him, so open and internationally minded. His deep and warm humanity with which he approached us and me and everything he did, paired with such a good sense of humour will never be forgotten! And so won’t be the wonderful evenings at your house. I will always admire him as a professor and as a person who gave so much to us. I wish you and your family all necessary strength in these difficult times! Ralf Marxen with wife Heike, Hamburg/Germany
Ralf Marxen
May 26, 2010
Dear Gisele,
I am so sad to hear of Mr. Wilner's passing. He was so sweet and caring and I really enjoyed taking care of him. I will continue to pray for you and your family in this time of sorrow. He as well as you touched my heart so deeply. May GOD continue to Bless You.
Elaine Fields
May 26, 2010
Dear Gabriel,
It was precious and enriching to have had the chance for a long personal talk together in Athens on graduation day this May, like good friends do!!
Thank you again for taking care of me as an LL.M. student and as a young man full of hope still looking for his path twelve years ago: you did a really good job Professor!! You planted good seeds in my life and in the lives of the people around you. Good luck whereever you are. Forever grateful, Francesco
Francesco Pifferi
May 26, 2010
Gabriel Wilner was first a professor and a guide in my own research work at UGA in the late 1970s when I met him at the Dean Rusk Center; then a faithful friend. Without a doubt, he is a Georgian who has gone beyond the call of academic and professional duty to promote a deep understanding not only of international public and private law but also of the European Union, its body of laws, its achievements, its complexities. In creating the Brussels Law Seminar in the early 1970s, it is fair to say that he has trained several generations of Georgia and American lawyers in the arcanes of international law and its practice. UGA and Georgia as well as his numerous students have lost a guide and a mentor. With great sadness and prayers: deepest condolences to Gisele. John
John McIntyre, Georgia Tech, (UGA PhD 81)
John McIntyre
May 25, 2010
Gisele, please know that you are in my thoughts as you face the days immediately ahead. Having lost Florence a bit over two years ago I am well aware of the sadness you are experiencing. Gabriel was a person much to be admired, a person with many devoted friends.
Darl Snyder, Atlanta, Georgia
May 25, 2010
Dear Gisele,
The news of Gab's passing brokes my heart. You have been a loving and devoted wife for 40 years. You have always impressed me with the respect and kindness that I observed in your marriage and also watching Gab as he felt the same for you.
We will all miss him.
Tina Eckard
May 25, 2010
Gisele, I am not sure I have ever met you personally, but I feel I know you from Dean Wilner's wonderful stories of you and Yaffi. Dean Wilner was a very nice person, and I enjoyed working with him these past nine years. Please accept my sympathy. I will miss his presence at the law school.
Heidi Murphy
May 25, 2010
Dear Gisele,

You are in my thoughts and prayers during this time of sorrow. God bless you and your family.

Sherry Allen
Sherry Allen
May 25, 2010
Dear Gisele,

I was very sad to learn about the loss of a dear friend. Professor Wilner played a key role in my education and my career. If it wasn't for him and his efforts I would never be where I am now, doing my doctorate in law. He was indeed a great scholar and a great person. Please accept my deepest condolences.
Vladislav Tomic
May 25, 2010
Dear Gisele
I am saddened to hear this news. May God bless you and give you strength to deal with the loss. Prof. Wilner supported us to pursue our dreams. He will be an inspiration to many.

Thomas Thoppil, Bangalore- batch of LL.M (1999- 2000)
May 24, 2010
Offering our deepest condolences during this difficult time.
Bernstein Funeral Home
May 25, 2010
I signed in this Guest Book with the deepest sorrow. I cannot believe we lost our beloved professor Wilner. Dear Professor Wilner inspired numerous law students and graduates. He supported us to pursue our dream in legal field. I still remembered that he and his lovely wife hosted Thanksgiving Dinner and Graduation Party for our LLM students. He will be deeply missed by all of us. At the same time, I give my sincere sympathy to Mrs. Wilner. Please take care in this saddest time.
Zhihui (Julie) Guo
May 24, 2010
Mrs. Wilner, I can not find sufficient words to console you for the loss of your husband and my most imminent Professor. But take comfort in the fact that he contributed enormously to the education of mankind. Take pride in the fact that his footprints can be found on every continent on the Planet Earth. His sons and daughters can be found in halls of justice in Africa, Asia, America (North & South),Europe and Australia. His teachings has shaped and continues to shape International Law. He was the Professor of professors; the Counsellor of counsellors; and the Diplomat of diplomats. Those of us who are his disciples must ensure that he lives on. Godspeed!
Aaron Von Williamson
May 24, 2010
"Dear Gisele, It was an honor and privilege to be among the 2010 LL.M graduate under the direction of Prof. Wilner. His legacy to the LL.M program will be an inspiration to many. May God give you the strenght to deal with your loss. Mukendi Kabuya (Democratic Republic of Congo).
Mukendi Kabuya
May 24, 2010
Dear Gisèle, You and Gabe are a very special part of our lives. Without you and Gabe, memorable times in Athens, Georgia, and opportunities created by Gabe, Steve would never have come to Belgium, and Anni and Steve would never have met, and our three dear sons would never have been born. Gabe was our professor and our mentor, but more importantly he was a dear friend. We will miss him dearly. We cannot imagine a July in Brussels without Gabe being here for the Brussels Seminar, which has been the high point of our summers for more than 30 years. Our deepest condolences and warmest and sincerest friendship and sympathies are with you. Steve and Anni Spinks (Brussels)
May 24, 2010
Dear Professor Wilner,

I was deeply saddened to hear of your loss. You are in my thoughts and prayers. May God bless you and your family during this time and always.


Pan Hu
Pan Hu
May 24, 2010
Dear Gisèle, Gabriel will be deeply missed by many many friends and colleagues. He was a very special person. I will miss his visits to Brussels every Christmas and summer, and our long and inspiring conversations in Athens. I am thinking of you during this time of sorrow, knowing how very close the two of you were. With warmest sympathy. Tony, a friend.
Tony Joris
May 24, 2010
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