“He was an important member of our Y family and it is hard to imagine life without him – it is hard to imagine the Albany Y without him” said Gail Drulis, Director of Albany YMCA.
Bob was a teacher and counselor for Berkeley Unified School District for 22 years. He taught special education day classes and spent most of his career as a counselor. He retired early in 1994 due to a heart attack, but that didn’t stop Bob. He joined the Albany YMCA Healthy Heart program and before long, he was back in the classroom as an active substitute teacher until 2006.
Gail was one of the exercise instructors for the Albany YMCA Healthy Heart Class when she first met Bob. She remembers him as one of the youngest members in the program, but thanks to his warm personality and love of people he immediately connected with everyone. He set a friendly, welcoming, tone for the class. Unless Bob was on vacation in Wyoming, he was there for every class, every holiday party, every Friday coffee, every monthly lunch. He even stayed after class in the lobby to talk with other members and staff. “Bob was our rock, a key leader, someone everyone knew they could count on,” said Gail.
For 23 years Bob went above and beyond as a committed member, supportive of the entire Albany YMCA. He served on the Board of Managers as well as the Program Committee, and he was a fundraising volunteer for over 20 years.
One year, Bob had the brilliant idea to ask his family to give a donation to the Albany Y in lieu of a birthday present. “All of us at the Y thought that was such an unbelievably generous thing to do and we never guessed that he would continue to do that for the rest of his life” said Gail.
“We always hoped Bob’s idea would inspire others to give up their birthday presents,” said Gail, “but so far no takers – which really speaks to the fact that Bob a very generous one of a kind.”
In memory of Robert (Bob) Kaneko.