Robert William Gillies

Robert William Gillies, "Coach", an 85 year old Santa Cruz native passed away peacefully at his Aptos home following a short illness, with his wife and family at 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 site of the Santa Cruz Memorial Park Cemetery & the Mission Chapel Mortuary.

Bob attended Grant Elementary School, Santa Cruz High School and graduated from San Jose State with a degree in Physical Education.

In his teenage years he became a recognized polo player at Pogonip and spent many days surfing at Cowell's 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 WW II stationed in San Francisco.

Following his return from the Coast Guard, Bob attended San Jose State College where he met and married Patricia Myers. Together they had two daughters and moved to Sanger, CA. where he accepted a teaching position.

He taught and coached at the Washington Jr. High School and later became Director of the Athletic Department at Sanger High School. He often said, "I coached everything except volleyball & Tennis".

Following his divorce from Patricia, he married a local Santa Cruz girl, Phyllis Cole Graham.

Upon Bob's retirement in 1982 he and Phyllis returned to Santa Cruz. They were both very active with the committee that installed the Surfing Sculpture over looking the beach on West Cliff Drive.

Bob became involved with his former surfing buddies in the development of the Santa Cruz Surfing Museum. Bob spent over twenty years supporting and working at the museum. He spent many Friday afternoons working at the museum greeting & welcoming visitors.

Bob was honored by the City of Santa Cruz as the Outstanding Volunteer for 2007-2008.

In 1982 Bob was sponsored by his childhood class mate, Harry Mayo into the SIRS Branch #20 Sons in Retirement . He became an active member and held the position of President of Area #10 Executive Golf Council for over ten years. He enjoyed playing golf with his friends from SIRS at least twice a week for many years.

Following his wife Phyllis's death in 2000, Bob returned to one of his early pleasures, dancing. He often danced five nights a week. He met many new friends. One of his new friends, Marianne "Ree" became his wife in 2002. Marianne & Bob enjoyed their time together dancing, traveling, golfing, visiting family & friends. They also enjoyed camping in Bob's Volkswagen Bus, "Orval".

Bob is survived by his wife, Marianne Gillies of Aptos, his daughters: Cathe Gillies of Oregon, and Coila and son-in-law, Sean McGowen of El Dorado, his step-children: Colleen Winn, Carla Lovelin and her husband Larry, Lyn Cater and Tom Reta. Nine grandchildren and five great grandchildren, many cousins, nieces and nephews also survive.

In addition to his parents, Bob was preceded in death by his six siblings: Eunice Gillies Bessie, Helen Gillies Doyle, James Gillies, Gertrude Gillies Nutter, Donald Whitfield Gillies and Anna Gillies Virdin.

Bob's family wishes to extend their appreciation for the care and concern Bob received from Dominican Hospital, their staff and the staff of the Santa Cruz Hospice.

Please plan to attend the Celebration of Bob's Life on Tuesday, Aug. 12, at 10:00 AM at the Surf Museum on West Cliff Drive at the Light House.

In keeping with Bob's wishes, his cremated remains will be scattered in the waters of the Pacific Ocean off the coast of Santa Cruz. Please make memorial contributions to the Santa Cruz Hospice 940 Disc Dr., Scotts Valley, CA. 95066. Santa Cruz Memorial - Mission Chapel entrusted with final arrangements. 831 426-1601


Published by Santa Cruz Sentinel on Jul. 27, 2008.
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5 Entries
Bob Gillies was my great uncle. Growing up we frequently saw him and Phyllis at my grandmas house during family gatherings. Years later, Bob moved in with my Granny and my mother and I got to know him well. We always enjoyed his company. He had great stories from all of his surfing escapades, not to mention the "dancing" dates. We were so pleased for him when he met Maryanne and fell in love. My mom and I referred to him as "uncle bob, "and for the time he lived with my granny he brought her loads of happiness. Im thankful that I got to know my "uncle bob" and maryanne in the time of life when they both realised "why wait!"

my sympathies to Cathy and Coila who I havent seen in too many years to count. Your dad was a good man.

xxx000 Teri
theresa rogers
August 7, 2008
Coach Gillies was a HUGE influence on many student-atheletes in the Sanger school system and a HUGE influence on turning around the lives of the lost students by recognizing their individual talents. As I read his Obit I realized what a great example of how we should live. God Bless You Coach Gillies and May You Rest in Peace.

Felix Lopez
Washington Jr. High Class of 70-71
Sanger High Class of 75
Felix Lopez
August 6, 2008
So sorry to hear about your loss. I have fond memories of swimming next door when we were neighbors in Sanger. My regards to all of the family.
Lorett Dela Torre
Loretta Dela Torre
August 6, 2008
"Coach" was my teacher and mentor in Sanger, CA. His hand was always within my reach in difficult times. Years later, as an adult, "Coach" asked that I call him Bob. I could not do it then, and I can not do it now. He will always be "Coach" to me.
Mitchell Huerta
August 5, 2008
I am so sorry to hear of your loss. I was so glad when Bob and Ree met; she was so happy!
Della Phillips Smith
July 31, 2008
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