Santa Barbara County Sheriff’s Chief Administrative Officer Robert “Bob” Gonzales died Tuesday morning, at the age of 71, from complications after a cardiac surgery.
“Bob loved life and his chosen profession: law enforcement,” Sheriff Bill Brown said in a news release. “He also loved to work, and it showed. He touched many of us with his warm smile and positive nature. He left a big impression on us, and he will be greatly missed.”
Mr. Gonzales joined the Sheriff’s Office on Aug. 31, 2019, as the first non-sworn human resources manager. Sept. 5, 2021, he broke another precedent as the first chief administrative officer.
He was born and raised in Santa Paula, a city he grew to serve. He attended Ventura College and earned an associate of science degree in criminal justice in 1970 and an associate of arts degree in general education. He later earned a bachelor of science in criminal justice from the University of La Verne.
Mr. Gonzales worked for the Santa Paula Police Department for 33 years. He served in every sworn position in the department: police officer, senior officer, patrol sergeant, lieutenant, operations commander and chief of police.
After serving as chief for seven years, his community elected him to the Santa Paula City Council, where he served for eight years. Then, he served two additional terms as the vice mayor before being elected mayor for two terms.
His free time was spent traveling, golfing and enjoying time with his eight grandchildren.
Mr. Gonzales is survived by his four adult children and their families: Steven Gonzales, a Santa Barbara County Sheriff’s deputy married to Deputy Charlene Gonzalez; Michelle McMahan; Mandee Gonzales and Brian Gonzales.