Casey and Gwen Cobban welcomed their son Gary Dennis to their family on January 25, 1939, in the family farmhouse near Mehama, Oregon. He joined siblings Terry Dean and Barbara Joan. Michael Lee, Robert Kendall, and Craig Allen completed the family.
Barb closely tended Gary’s needs. He only had to point and she retrieved the item he wanted. Consequently, he didn’t speak until nearly five years old. He carried this trait throughout his life. He merely had to point or stomp on the flying bridge and his girls brought what he needed.
The Family moved to Sitka before WW11 where Casey worked as an electrician. They had to leave because of the War. The family returned to Alaska to settle in Seward after the War.
Gary started his fishing career in Seward. At nine years of age he fished for crab in the waters near town. During his lifetime he fished in Resurrection Bay and Bristol Bay for salmon; Adak, Kodiak, Seldovia, and Kachemak Bay for king crab and or tanner crab; Kodiak and Seward for shrimp; and Kodiak for cod and halibut. He spent twenty -six years in Bristol Bay and the Kodiak Island area on his big blue boat, The F/V Lucrative, as a tender operator.
While he worked on deck and skippered many vessels the most memorable vessels include the 75 foot Bender shrimper/crabber F/V Gerry D (named for his daughter Gerry), a 32 foot Marco Bristol Bay gillnetter F/V Lucrative, the 32 foot gillnetter F/V Phantom, the 80 foot tender F/V Lucrative, and most recently the 42 foot seiner F/V Rubicon.
He met his future wife Delores Cobban while buying ice cream at a little shop in Seldovia, Alaska at the age of fourteen. They knew upon meeting they would marry and raise a family. On October 4, 2018 they celebrated 61 years of marriage.
Commercial fishing brought the Cobban family to Kodiak in 1967. Gary had no desire to go on “a real vacation” instead he’d load the family on the boat and off they’d go hunting and fishing the Kodiak Island Archipelago. In the early years, the family dined on whichever seafood season he fished. This led Gary and his father, Casey, to creating gourmet seafood recipes. Gary carried on his experimentation with seafood the remainder of his days.
Gary’s love for hunting also provided both food and income to the family. Besides making sure his children Gary Jr, Gerry, and Deanna learned the art of hunting and preserving the meat, he spent many years taking groups of his buddies out to the hunting grounds. One of his Sitka Black Tailed Bucks ranked 3rd largest with Safari International. Gary hunted caribou, deer, elk, moose, and sheep. While he had many encounters, he never once had a desire to kill a Kodiak Brown Bear.
Friendship and Family meant everything to Gary. He created lifelong friendships during his years as a tender-man. Those friendships continued even when the friend in question worked for the competition.
Gary passed peacefully at home in the arms of his daughters Gerry and Deanna and granddaughter Kristin on June 29, 2019.
His surviving relatives include his brothers Michael & Joanne Cobban of Wasilla, Craig and Junko Cobban of Anchorage. brother-in-law Jim Gunderson of Longbeach, WA . His children Gary Cobban Jr., Gerry and Gary Knagin and Deanna Cobban, his grandchildren Brandi, Barbara, David, Kristin and Erik, his great-grandchildren Deacon, Kylie (Bradly), Alexia and Natalie. Plus many aunts, uncles, nieces, nephews and cousins.
A Celebration of Life to honor both Gary and his newly departed wife Dodi, will follow on October 4, 2019. The family requests in lieu of flowers donations go to The Kodiak Island Sportman’s Association.