As the executive director of the Western Illinois Regional Council, I hired Nathan Cobb in June 2009. I remember interviewing him and thinking, not only did he have the right qualifications to work in the Weatherization program; I also felt he had the attributes and qualities to be someone who could do anything he set his mind to, and that is exactly what he did.
He did a wonderful job as a housing specialist and then an opportunity presented itself for him to move to the grant writing and administration side of the Agency. He took this task on with gusto and what was so special about him in this role, was that he was always looking to expand his knowledge or look for new and exciting opportunities for the Agency.
Nathan was never one to just accept the status quo. He wanted to know the how and the why and his inquisitive side led to new opportunities for the Agency such as the energy efficiency grants; one of which was granted to Macomb’s Airport for a lighting project.
In 2014 with the pending retirement of the McDonough County Public Transportation Program Transit Director, a new opportunity presented itself for Nathan to advance again. He applied for the position and was overwhelmingly the choice given his work ethic and abilities. In that position, he did an outstanding job. All the staff saw Nathan as a rising star and destined for excelling, whether it was at the WIRC or elsewhere. Anyone would be proud to call him a friend, co-worker or colleague.
I spent a lot of time with Nathan over the years and before my retirement. He would come to the main office and ask how my day was going. That is something that he did with every one of the employees at WIRC. His smile and kindness to care and ask how someone was doing touched everyone. After I retired, we would try to have lunch at least every couple of months. He would update me on how things were going and ask my opinion on others. And it was just such an enjoyable time for talking and catching up.
One of my fondest memories of Nathan was the day he took me flying last fall. It was a rather windy, bumpy day and Nathan kept apologizing because of the turbulence. I told him not to worry because I felt like I was on a roller coaster, albeit 1700 feet in the air and just the ground below, but this was fine. My husband Tim and friend Tracy in the back seat weren’t having as much fun as I was though since I was in the front seat and they apparently were bearing the brunt of the rocking and rolling. At one point, Nathan turned to me and asked me if I wanted to fly the plane. I immediately said yes and he turned it over to me which certainly took a lot of trust on his part since I had never done anything like this before. Granted, it was only for about five minutes or so, just long enough for me to further cause rocking and rolling for the backseat passengers, until I told Nathan he better take back the controls. We both had fun and I know Nathan relished the fact that I had enjoyed this flight so much. This memory will always remain special to me.
Nathan was a kind and gentle soul, with a big and generous heart. Those who knew him well have shed many a tear over his loss. Those that didn’t know him well but who he might have come in contact with have commented that any time they saw him, his caring and compassion would always shine through by his pleasant and heartwarming smile and demeanor. Nathan was very special for all of the kindnesses he shared and for being the very special person that he was.
Nathan is missed by so many aside from his immediate family including his WIRC family, his family at the Transit Facility and all that he touched in this community, the region, the state and beyond. Nathan’s passing will remain heavy on our hearts for a very long time to come. We have all lost with Nathan’s passing; this bright and shining star of a young man, who left us far too soon.
Suzan Nash is the interim Executive Director of the Western Illinois Regional Council.
The opinions expressed are not necessarily those of Tri States Public Radio or Western Illinois University.
Diverse viewpoints are welcomed and encouraged.