Thursday, April 26, 2018
News Roundup

Gabe Kober: 'Mayor' on Snell Isle known for hundreds of neighborly acts

ST. PETERSBURG — Gabe Kober left his waterfront home on Cordova Boulevard at 6 a.m. to start his day protecting the neighborhood. The tall man with short gray hair and an upright posture walked the well-kept street that curves between Eden Isle and Snell Isle Boulevard, ready to perform dozens of small acts that made up his routine.

He pulled trash containers to the curb on garbage day. He delivered newspapers from driveways to the front door.

He dug into his pockets for doggie treats. He pulled weeds in neighbors' yards and even planted flowers.

Mr. Kober also walked the neighborhood at 10 p.m. and 2 a.m. At those times, his mission was more protective. If he saw people he didn't recognize sitting in their cars, he asked if he could help them.

On the nighttime walks he sometimes carried a 2-foot-long club, with nails protruding from the meaty end on each side.

"If somebody tried to take advantage of a senior, he would be able to protect himself," said Bill Kober, Mr. Kober's son.

He never had to use it. Some neighbors think his very presence kept would-be prowlers away. He stayed on top of every suspicious vehicle and pulled every weed he saw, no matter whose yard it was in.

He even edged the lawns of neighboring houses, just because he thought that is how neighbors ought to behave.

Mr. Kober, also known as the "mayor of Cordova Boulevard," died Thursday while visiting his son's family in Washington, N.J. He was 94.

"He wanted the neighborhood to look nice," said Bill Kober, 71. "If he saw weeds growing in the crack of the sidewalk, he'd take them out."

The activity that kept the neighborhood clean also may have kept Mr. Kober alive. He was on his sixth pacemaker since 1975, when he retired to St. Petersburg. His pacemakers were designed to kick in only after his pulse dropped below 70. Because keeping going was his nature, that wasn't very often.

"Nobody had to touch their garbage cans for years," said Jerry Goff, a neighbor of 12 years. "We got used to that."

When neighbors went out of town, Mr. Kober checked on their houses, which was a little harder to get used to.

"He watched everybody's stuff, almost to a fault," said Goff, 52. A couple of times, Goff said he had returned early from a weekend trip and was startled to see a man peering through the glass.

Goff said he was frightened before he realized, "It's … Gabe, checking your doors."

Mr. Kober was born in Phillipsburg, N.J., in 1918, in a farming family. He married Madeline Simon at 19, when he was working at a Sunoco station. Two years later, Sun Oil lent him the money for his own station outside Phillipsburg.

Mr. Kober fought in the Army during World War II in the Pacific, where he was wounded. He left the service as a master sergeant and returned to his wife and two sons.

The entire family worked. Sons Bill and Gabriel pitched in often seven days a week while Madeline Kober ran a luncheonette next to the gas station. Some days, the boys washed 50 cars by hand.

In the meantime, Mr. Kober served as a volunteer fire chief and in the Civil Defense Corps.

Mr. Kober retired to St. Petersburg in 1975, around the time he got his first pacemaker. He served in a neighborhood watch program in association with the Pinellas County Sheriff's Office and was active in Shriners International.

The last couple of years, the "mayor" has lacked the strength to make his rounds through the neighborhood. But passers-by still saw him in his lawn chair beneath an open garage door, waving at them and calling out a friendly hello.

Said longtime neighbor Patti Bridges: "It's hard to imagine a neighbor like that in today's world."

Andrew Meacham can be reached at [email protected] or (727) 892-2248.

Comments
Softball: Plant City perfect in district finals with Ashley Bullion on mound

Softball: Plant City perfect in district finals with Ashley Bullion on mound

PLANT CITY — Plant City softball coach Ashley Bullion is 4-for-4 after Thursday night.Four years at the helm, four district titles.The latest championship came in a 4-1 victory over East Bay in the Class 8A, District 6 final, a victory highligh...
Updated: 24 minutes ago

Softball: Recent momentum carries Mitchell past Sunlake

LAND O' LAKES — Despite being on the wrong end of two lopsided outcomes to Sunlake during the regular season, recent events gave Mitchell hope in its Class 7A-10 district final rematch with the Seahawks.Just two days prior, the Mustangs be...
Updated: 1 hour ago

Softball: Robinson makes it 10 straight wins vs. Jefferson

TAMPA — For the Robinson softball team, the perfect 10 was complete.The top-seeded Knights defeated No. 2 Jefferson for the 10th consecutive time Thursday and claimed their fifth district championship in a row, a 12-2 five-inning victory in the...
Updated: 1 hour ago

Softball: Itís April, so Chamberlain is winning

TAMPA — Coach Bob Diez and his Chamberlain Chiefs have always believed in this motto: "Be good in April."This is their season.The Chiefs added another Class 7A-8 district title Thursday against Gaither with a 7-0 victory.With the win, the ...
Updated: 1 hour ago

Softball: East Lake is aggressive from the start

TARPON SPRINGS — If strong pitching and defense are the bellwethers of a deep playoff run, consider East Lake ready.Playing second seed Pinellas Park on Thursday night for the Class 8A-7 title, the host Eagles (22-3) used that philosophy to mak...
Updated: 1 hour ago
NFL draft: Chargers take FSUís Derwin James with No. 17 pick

NFL draft: Chargers take FSUís Derwin James with No. 17 pick

Former Florida State safety Derwin James fell farther than expected Thursday in the first night of the NFL draft before being chosen by the Chargers with the No. 17 overall pick.James became the fifth former Seminoles defensive back ever drafted in t...
Updated: 21 minutes ago
NFL draft: Patriots pick Lakewood alum Isaiah Wynn at No. 23

NFL draft: Patriots pick Lakewood alum Isaiah Wynn at No. 23

Lakewood High alumnus and former Georgia offensive lineman Isaiah Wynn was drafted No. 23 overall Thursday by the Patriots.Wynn becomes one of the highest drafted offensive linemen in Tampa Bay history and the first Pinellas County player to go in th...
Updated: 23 minutes ago
Bucs trade down with Bills, take strongman DT Vita Vea No. 12

Bucs trade down with Bills, take strongman DT Vita Vea No. 12

TAMPA — Vita Vea loves to tell the story about the trip he took to French Polynesia with some University of Washington students and the group coming upon some enormous rocks."So over there, their strongman competition is they have a tradition w...
Updated: 23 minutes ago
Another reason the Bucs took defensive tackle Vita Vea at No. 12

Another reason the Bucs took defensive tackle Vita Vea at No. 12

TAMPA — The selection of Vita Vea is a move the Bucs made for the present and the future. While Gerald McCoy remains a dominant defensive tackle, he turned 30 in February and is due to make $12.3 million this season and $13 million in...
Updated: 23 minutes ago
Bucs GM Jason Licht has assembled enough talent to win

Bucs GM Jason Licht has assembled enough talent to win

TAMPA — Another busy offseason. Another first round of the NFL draft. Another interesting night.And, through it all, Bucs general manager Jason Licht has looked pretty darn good.He spent the past couple of months patching his offensive line, sp...
Updated: 23 minutes ago