Amid our grief in the J. office over the death this week of reporter Rob Gloster, the staff recognizes an absurd irony: The guy who in life insisted on disappearing behind the veil of journalistic anonymity is now the subject of a glowing tribute in the newspaper he served so well for the last three years.
Rob would hate all the fuss.
But he deserves to be honored and remembered as a man who spent his life chronicling the world around him and then, late in his career, training his sharp reporter's eye on the Bay Area Jewish community.
"Rob was the consummate newsman," said J. editor Sue Fishkoff. "For someone who did not suffer fools gladly, and who was unafraid to tackle the most difficult story or ornery interview subject, he was amazingly optimistic. He cared deeply about the people around him, and about the world in general."
A probing questioner and a masterful prose stylist, Rob Gloster was an exemplar of the highest journalistic standards. He died April 9 of complications from a 2½-year battle with pancreatic cancer. He was 62.
In many respects, it wasn't much of a battle. Cancer only won at the last minute. Throughout almost his entire illness, Rob refused to be sick or, as he told J. managing editor Sue Barnett, "I don't want to be the cancer guy." She recalls that during chemo treatments he would insist on working from the hospital because he was "just sitting there."
He continued to travel the world, play cello in Bay Area community ensembles and treasure life with his wife, Sharon, and teenage daughters, Daniela, 16, and Talia, 19. Most tellingly, up to the end he continued to ply the trade he loved, writing compelling stories for J. and moonlighting as the sportswriter he had been for decades.
Well into his brutal chemotherapy regimen, Rob would ride his bike into the office from his Mountain View home (Caltrain took him part of the way). "He'd come in from one of those commutes, clearly in pain, and say, as a little aside, 'Man, my fingers are pretty stiff after that ride,'" remembered J. online editor David A.M. Wilensky.
Rob filed his last piece of journalism for Associated Press only two days before his death, after covering the Giants-Rays game in San Francisco last Sunday.
"I will remember Rob as the most decent, hardworking, no-nonsense, dependable coworker I've ever had, no exaggeration," added Wilensky. "He never let the team down. No assignment was beneath him, and no assignment was too big or complex for him to take. He was a fearless reporter."
How fearless? Rob landed interviews with strident anti-Zionist activists such as SFSU professor Rabab Abdulhadi and UC Berkeley's Hatem Bazian, figures who generally avoid the Jewish press.
Rob even waded into an interview with a rabid far-right anti-Semite running in last year's primary election. In May 2018, he persuaded avowed white nationalist Patrick Little, who was running for California's GOP Senate nomination, to sit for an interview.
Rob got Little to say on the record that Auschwitz was a country club, that the United States is "a Zionist-occupied government," and that if he were in power he would fund Hezbollah.
That article is No. 10 on the J. website's all-time most-popular list, tallying more than 18,000 hits.
Rob also has the 13th most popular article of all time, and it ran only last week: his cover story about Craigslist founder Craig Newmark has garnered nearly 12,000 hits.
It was Rob's last story for J.
[Editor's note: This is an excerpt. To read the entire article, please click here.]