Gary D. Cobban Jr. and David L. Cobban
On December 31, 2019, something went terminally wrong onboard the F/V Scandies Rose.
When it became evident the boat would sink, Gary Jr. made a choice. He refused a survival suit to run to the starboard side of his wheelhouse and transmit a mayday call. (That transmission ultimately saved two men.) In 47 seconds, his voice went from incredulous (this can’t be happening) to acceptance (we won’t make it off the boat). His son David, wearing a survival suit, made a choice. David stayed by his father’s side. The end of the mayday call has David’s voice (loud and clear) “157”; Gary Jr. and David’s in unison, “01,” which completed the final transmission from the F/V Scandies Rose!
Third and fourth generation Alaskan fisherman Gary D. Cobban Jr. and David L. Cobban, in the timeworn tradition of both the Cobban and Gunderson families, had father and son fishing together.
On December 30, 2019, they threw off the lines heading for the fishing grounds expecting to slay cod, then fill their pots with opilio crab as they have done in the past. This time their vessel, the F/V Scandies Rose, did not make it to the fishing grounds. They made it to Sutwik Island. On December 31, 2019, at 9:50 p.m., Davy Jones called them home. Father and son still fish the grounds from their wheelhouse on the F/V Scandies Rose.
Gary Dennis Cobban Jr. burst forth on July 1, 1958, in Seldovia, Alaska, as the first of three siblings born to Gary D. and Dodi Cobban. Gary grew up in a subsistence lifestyle, learning fishing at a young age, working and hunting with his father Gary and his maternal grandfather Dez Gunderson. At nine years of age, the family moved to Kodiak. During the summers Gary fished with his father in the “new” to both of them ... shrimp fishery. Winter saw him winning wrestling championships as he truly loved to wrestle.
Fishing Kachemak Bay for crab and salmon in the early days, Gary moved on to fish cod, crab, halibut and shrimp in the Kodiak Island area. In his early 20s he gillnetted salmon in Bristol Bay with his siblings. Gary spent one summer chasing lobster in Hawaii and another chasing sword fish off California. He spent many seasons tendering salmon across Alaskan waters. The Bering Sea offered up cod, bairdi crab, blue crab, brown crab, red king crab and opilio crab. While he worked on deck and skippered many vessels, the most memorable vessels include the 88-foot F/V Gerry D, the 98-foot F/V Ocean Challenger and the 98-foot F/V Rebel. Gary achieved his goals of boat ownership when he purchased the 100-foot F/V New Venture and his beloved 130-foot F/V Scandies Rose.
Gary, a consummate fisherman, wouldn’t dream of any other lifestyle. He mentored many new captains and crew who also achieved captain status. Gary routinely helped others whenever he could. Wrenches, tools, tows to town and time given to make repairs. He often spent many hours using coffee and conversation to keep younger captains alert and awake during tendering and traveling times.
Gary painted names of family and close acquaintances on his buoys. He kept track of which buoys out-fished the others. The family waited with bated breath for the results at the end of every cod or crab season.
Gary the REBEL lived life his way.
Gary D. Cobban Jr. was preceded in death by his parents Gary D. Cobban Sr. and Delores (Dodi) Gunderson Cobban. Wishing him full pots always: his sisters Gerry Cobban Knagin (Gary Knagin) and Deanna Cobban; his children Brandi Fish (Tracy Fish), Barbara Cobban (Tim Shapland) and Erik Cobban; his grandkids Natalie Fish, Deacon Cobban, Bradly Cobban and Alexia Cobban; and his niece Kristin Cobban.
David Leigh Cobban, born April 8, 1989, in Mobile, Alabama, became the first boy child of Gary and Elgia to survive. Three angel boys happened between Barbara and David. As a result, his sister Barbara gave David his name, which means “one who is beloved.”
David, a very kind soul, loved his family and friends. He rarely said no when asked to help others, especially family. When gramma Dodi called, David appeared ready and willing no matter the task. As a youngster, the family referred to him as a gentle giant. He proved them correct by growing to a height far surpassing his dad and grandfather Gary Sr. and William. David had a legendary appetite.
When David wasn’t fishing, he played games. He liked to play online games, Xbox games and hands-on games. David played Pokémon, Magic the Gathering, Dungeons and Dragons, and his latest, Warhammer 40K. David purchased, assembled and painted his Warhammer army.
Most who knew him saw him with paint all over his hands, clothes and hair. They saw his painted works and listened to his many tales of construction and strategy. David relished his opportunities to build his army.
Within his family of hardworking, book-loving intellectuals, David took his nerdiness to a whole different realm far beyond expectations. He endured the teasing with a huge laugh.
David started tendering and cod fishing on the 100-foot F/V New Venture, 104-foot F/V Alaska Challenger, 103-foot F/V Amatuli and 98-foot F/V Arctic Dawn. His dad Gary took him in search of cod and crab on the 130-foot F/V Scandies Rose. They tended salmon together as well.
David loved spending time learning the family business with his dad.
David the GAMER! spent his off-season engaged in gaming.
David died in the wheelhouse of the F/V Scandies Rose with his dad Gary D Cobban Jr.
He was preceded in death by his paternal grandparents Gary D. Sr. and Dodi Cobban, as well as maternal grandfather Captain William J. Bickford, USCG Ret.
Wishing him full pots always: his maternal grandmother Elgia Bickford (Sr.); his mother Elgia Bickford (Jim Parker); his sisters Brandi Fish (Tracy Fish) and Barbara Cobban (Tim Shapland); his brother Erik Cobban; his nieces and nephews Natalie Fish, Deacon Cobban, Bradly Cobban and Alexia Cobban; his aunts Gerry Cobban Knagin (Gary Knagin) and Deanna Cobban; and his cousin Kristin Cobban.
All crab fishermen know the risks of their chosen profession. This time Davy Jones called in the Cobban men’s marker.
Gary and David, bless their Viking ancestry, fish the F/V Scandies Rose together in berserker mode chasing the monster crab of their dreams. Art Ganacias, Brock Rainey and Seth Rousseau-Gano have joined them onboard the F/V Scandies Rose for eternity.
Memorial Service will be held Saturday, Sept. 19, 2020, at 5:30 p.m. at the Elks. Bring a dish and story to share.
“It is not that life ashore is distasteful to me. But life at sea is better.” — Sir Francis Drake