Robert William Gillies, “Coach”, a native of Santa Cruz, CA. passed away in his Aptos home following a short illness, with his wife and family by his side. Bob was the last remaining survivor of seven children born to William Whitfield Gillies and Coila Kenyon Gillies. Bob was born on December 27, 1922 at the family farm located at the end of Ocean Street Extension, on the property that is now the Santa Cruz Memorial Park Cemetery and Mission Chapel Mortuary.
In his teenage years he became a recognized polo player at Pogonip and spent many days surfing at Cowell Beach with his buddies. He was a charter member of the Santa Cruz Surfing Club,.
Bob was a member of the U.S. Coast Guard during WWII Stationed in San Francisco After his discharge, Bob attended San Jose State College. Upon Receiving his credential he accepted a position in Sanger, California. Bob taught and coached at Washington Jr. High School for several years, later becoming the Athletic Director at Sanger High School. He said “I coached everything except tennis and volleyball.”
Bob returned to Santa Cruz upon his retirement in 1982. He became involved with the original group of surfers in the development of the Santa Cruz Surfing Museum. Bob Spent over twenty years supporting and working at the Museum greeting and welcoming visitors. Bob was honored by the City of Santa Cruz as the Outstanding Volunteer for 2007-2008. Bob was very active with the committee that installed the surfing sculptor overlooking the beach on West Cliff Drive.
Following his wife, Phyllis's death in 2002, Bob returned to one of his early pleasures, dancing. He often danced five nights a week, where he made many new friends. One of his new friends, Marianne “Ree” Reta became his wife in 2002. Marianne and Bob enjoyed their time dancing, traveling, golfing, visiting family and friends. They also enjoyed camping in Bob's Volkswagen Bus, “Orval.”
Bob is survived by his wife Marianne Reta Gillies, of Aptos, his daughters; Cathe Gillies of Oregon, and Coila and son-in-law, Sean McGowen, of ElDorado, his step children Colleen Winn, Carla Reta Lovelin and her husband Larry, Lynn Reta Cater, and Tom Reta., Nine grandchildren, five great grandchildren, many cousins, nieces and nephews also survive.
Graveside service will be held on august 27, 2008 at 11 am at the Merced District Cemetery in Merced, with the Reverend David McGurk officiating, followed by a reception at the Hoffmeister Center at Central Presbyterian Church.
In lieu of flowers, Memorials can be made to Santa Cruz Hospice, 940 Disc Dr. Scotts Valley, CA 95066 or the donors favorite charity.
Published by Merced Sun Star on Aug. 5, 2008.