Dr. Richard (“Rick”) Coble, former part-time resident of Pagosa Springs, died Saturday, Sept. 12, from natural causes. He was 69.
While in undergraduate school at Cal Poly Pomona, he participated in the sailing club and also played goalie on the water polo team. After receiving his bachelor’s degree in civil engineering, Rick worked in his father’s construction business in southern California until an opportunity arose to work on the initial construction of Walt Disney World (WDW) in Orlando.
Rick moved to Orlando in 1971 and worked on numerous WDW projects, including Fort Wilderness, the WDW main entrance and the Monorail station. In 1976, he started his own construction company, Kaco Construction, and worked on the Circus World theme park, doing all of the site work and underground construction and constructing all of the buildings (and even burying an elephant). Kaco also worked on several Epcot pavilions (China, France, Japan, Norway and Horizons), as well as doing all of the hardscape for Epcot.
While running his own construction company, he earned his master’s degree in building construction at the University of Florida. In addition, his company completed projects for the Corps of Engineers and the U.S. Navy in Hawaii, Key West and Tampa. His company also completed the streetscape project in downtown Orlando on Orange Avenue and around Lake Eola, as well as water system and pipeline projects in Iraq, Colorado and New Jersey.
In the 1980s, Rick became a consultant to several surety companies, helping them complete projects after the original contractor defaulted. Rick approached his consulting work as he did everything else in life — with great passion and enthusiasm. His novel and creative methods in dealing with construction claims confounded his opponents and helped him achieve success for his clients.
He invested in several properties in Pagosa Springs in the early ‘80s and he and his family enjoyed spending time between Florida and Colorado for many years.
In 1992, Rick was the first person to receive a Ph.D. from the University of Florida College of Architecture. He became a professor in the UF Building Construction School, where he taught for 12 years and was named “teacher of the year.” He was editor of 12 books and reports, author or co-author for 78 publications and gave numerous talks and presentations to academic groups all over the world. He was a visiting professor at the University of Salford in Manchester, UK, and at Tsinghua University, Beijing, China.
Rick was a very generous man, supporting churches and other ministries and the YMCA, as well as individuals he met who needed help. He was a committed Christian who spent a great deal of time in Bible study.
Rick is survived by his five children, Tyson Coble, Brent Coble (Sonia), Justin Coble (Debbie), Kristin Coble Hiltzheimer (Ben) and Lacey Harris-Coble, and eight grandchildren (Maya, Tec, Sid, Caleb, Kai, Kellen, Isabelle and Gabrielle).