Gilbert Walter Cobb

Gilbert Walter Cobb

June 20, 1944 – April 2, 2019
Born at Roseburg, Oregon, son to Gilbert Seamore Cobb and Ella Selma Hill, Gil grew up in Douglas County, Oregon. After graduating from Sacramento Senior High, he attended Portland Community College and Oregon Polytechnic Institute pursuing courses in civil and structural engineering technology. In 1964, he married Sharen Kay, and they had two sons, Brett and Jason. They divorced in 1974.

In his early years, Gil worked several industrial jobs: in forestry as a choker setter, second loader and rigging slinger; at the Steamboat Ranger Station on road reconstruction and inspection; for concrete firms doing transit, building location, soils lab and steel layout work. From 1972 to 1976 he worked as a building inspector and laboratory technician for Northwest Testing Laboratories in Eugene, Oregon.

Gil married Victoria Kahn in 1976 and immigrated to Canada, where he worked for Thurber Consulting Engineering as a project field supervisor on large industrial projects across British Columbia, from bridge assessments for C.P. Rail to slope stability studies for BC Hydro.

The call of the north took Gil to the Smithers and Terrace area in 1977, and he and Victoria separated in 1984.

In Terrace, Gil began his career as a local government building inspector, first for the City of Terrace and then the Village of Gold River. In Terrace, he also met Deborah Sargent, and they married in 1989. The couple worked for the City of Nanaimo until 1992, when their son Nathaniel was born, and they returned to northwestern B.C. Gil worked at the Town of Smithers as the chief building official and manager of development services until his retirement in 2002. In 2015, the family moved to Campbell River.

Gil was active throughout his career in the Building Officials Association of BC, serving as a regional representative for many years and leading the push for professional standards and continuing professional development. Through the Canadian Union of Public Employees, he was a strong advocate for workers’ rights. He was a voracious reader of social history and geopolitics and talked at length on the history, politics and geography of his adopted country Canada. He was most proud of becoming a Canadian citizen in January of 2012.

Gil also loved art, culture, and music, and in his retirement taught himself music theory and how to play the guitar. He had an amazing capacity to enjoy the moment, whether it was a flicker at the birdfeeder or a wild lily blooming in the spring.

More than anything, Gil cherished the beauty and joy of being in nature. In his younger years, he was an avid back country hiker and cross-country skier. He had a way of walking through the wilderness with ease and grace that matched the care that he took in being there. All his life, he was consumed by fly fishing. The river called him and enriched his soul with solitude. It was his mentor and his teacher, and he never tired of feeling at one with the river and the pure pleasure of fishing – not catching, but enjoying that wonderful feeling of anticipation. When fishing in Campbell River’s Tyee Pool, he would watch the beat of the rod as a fish was hooked. Smiling, he’d say, “Ah yeah, this is it.”

Gil was passionate about the value of wilderness and worked on several campaigns to save special features and natural resources in the Umpqua river area of Oregon and in northwestern BC. He had a spiritual bond with nature, the land and our connections with past civilizations, and he happily recounted his adventures in the wilderness.

Whenever we walk in the woods or hear the sounds of a river, we will know that Gil is with us.

Gil leaves behind Deborah, his wife of 30 years, his sons Brett (Kelly), Jason and Nathaniel, his brother Vernon, nieces Crista and Angelique and four grandchildren, Rachel, Desiree, Kaylee, and Brayden. Gil is also survived by his two previous wives, Sharen Kay and Victoria. Many close and long-time friends also mourn his passing.

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