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Gerry Kobe: A Quality Guy

After a valiant battle of more than two years, Gerry Kobe passed away Memorial Day weekend. The former Editor-In- Chief of Automotive Industries, has been a guiding spirit here for many years and his legacy will continue to be a tangible editorial beacon as we go forward.

It is always so tragic when a relatively young man like Gerry is torn from the fabric of our life and work, leaving us to ponder the meaning of it all. Is life no more than “a tale told by an idiot, full of sound and fury and signifying nothing?”

Those left behind must find the will and the strength to rise above and it is our feelings and memories of the deceased that provide the loft enabling us to see life steadily and see it whole, to make the days we are granted count for something positive. So it is that Gerry has become to his admirers, surviving in the thoughts and aspirations of our staff and in the fond memories of many in the industry who worked with him. I didn’t have the privilege of working with Gerry very long and got to know him more through staff and industry people who knew him well.

I do know him to be a high quality individual, true to his word and loyal to his principles. Gerry was a quick wit and the kindliest of curmudgeons. His zero tolerance for BS was legendary and earned him respect from all quarters.

Gerry’s monthly column, known as “Kobe’s Beef,” could be very funny or stingingly sarcastic and critical, but it was always interesting food for thought and he hated to give it up.

It did become too much of a burden in time and he didn’t want to do it if it wasn’t his best. It was so tough to walk away. And I really think he never did in spirit as he continued conveying his observations on the magazine and the industry.

Gerry was always looking for a unique perspective on any article idea he approached and successfully found it.

Always searching for the next buzz and the interesting spin, topics like lean manufacturing and automobile recycling lit him up with energy and drive. He had such a keen ability to clearly visualize the story whether it was one he was working on or one assigned to another staffer.

This June issue is all about quality and I believe Gerry would have been proud of it. He followed Automotive Industries very closely. Speaking with him just two weeks ago, I asked how he thought we were doing. He said we had to watch our typos more, but said it was certainly a good read and he liked the strong feature direction we have taken stressing novel, original work.

What better tribute could we offer than continuing the tradition that he was part of for so many years, a tradition now approaching 110 years?

Gerry was positive to the end. When I spoke with him recently he was resigned to the outcome, but not feeling sorry for himself in the least. This quality guy was courageous to the very last.

Godspeed, Gerry, and may you see your “pilot face to face as you cross the bar.”

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