Gary was born in Buffalo, New York, in 1954. Upstate New York would be his home for most of the next 27 years.
Gary went to Cornell University as an undergraduate, and actually considered a career as an attorney. He even earned his law degree at the University of Buffalo Law School.
But that's when the combination of sports and broadcasting got its hold on Gary. He went into television in Buffalo, and in Steubenville, Ohio.
In April 1981, Gary Papa came to Action News and the Delaware Valley. Gary's first report was from Milwaukee, where the Sixers were playing the Bucks in the NBA playoffs.
Action News viewers will remember that Gary spent 9 years as weekend sports anchor, working alongside Rob Jennings.
He also spent 3 days a week reporting from the field, often on the Phillies, Flyers, Sixers and Eagles, and often on ordinary people doing extraordinary things.
Action News wasn't Gary's only program here on Channel 6. He was also the host of the long running weekend show Prime Time, taking over from Jim O'Brien in 1983.
In 1990, Gary was named Action News Sports Director.
But it would be a mistake to think that a Monday through Friday anchoring job would let Gary spend his weekends at home. Where ever the sports story was, whenever it took place, Gary was there. So when the Eagles were playing on Sundays, he was working. And if they were on the road, so was he.
And when sports came to town, even sports that we weren't all familiar with, Gary was there, and he explained them to all of us.
Because he was seemingly everywhere, seemingly all of the time, many Action News viewers considered Gary part of their families, as did all of us who worked with him.
So when Gary announced on air in 2004 that he was battling prostate cancer, he knew he was sharing a private ordeal with people who cared, and he received an outpouring of emotion and support throughout his fight.
And for Gary it was a powerful fight. In fact, for much of that fight he was on top, but three years later, he broke the news to all of us, that he was again undergoing chemotherapy.
Through it all, Gary's love was being on air every night he could. When he sat in the studio, no matter how awful he felt, his spirit would brighten, his smile would shine, and, if even for just 3 minutes, he felt the joy and the thrill of sharing the day's sports, and being part of the day's triumphs and tragedies with all of you, and with all of us.
Gary leaves behind his wife Kathleen, his two sons Tucker and Nathaniel, of course his Action News family, and all of you.