Friends say Garry Cobb’s contributions to the Blue Springs community will be felt for years.

“Everybody loved Garry,” said business owner Bill Fickle. “He could be cantankerous, but he was everybody’s friend.”

Cobb, 61, died Monday. He was best known for coming up with the concept of Lunar Bowl – a bowling center, not a bowling alley, he insisted, with stylish touches, a bar and a restaurant. He opened it 15 years ago.

John Beaudoin (a former Examiner reporter, editor and columnist) knew Cobb for years and tended bar now and then at Lunar Bowl. He said the idea of landing a Professional Bowlers Association tour stop sounded half-crazy, but Cobb got one in 2003 and again in 2004, drawing coverage from ESPN and putting Lunar Bowl on the map.

“Those guys came out and loved the facility,” Beaudoin said of the bowlers.

“Garry wanted to give the people of Blue Springs something – not just Blue Springs but Eastern Jackson County – something that had never been seen before,” Beaudoin said.

Cobb’s son, Zach, said he met with several of his father’s friends on Tuesday, and they had a chance to share memories and even a few laughs.

“There’s just been so many people who have reached out and talked about his impact,” he said.

He talked about the origins of Lunar Bowl. His father had sold a previous business. “He was kind of looking around for something to do,” Zach Cobb said.

He came up with Lunar Bowl and sold people – including Zach – on how it would be different.

“He invented this from the ground up,” he said. Among other things, it was to be a safe place for kids to play and hang out.

“There’s a lot of people (who) have great memories there,” he said.

Through the years, hundreds of people have worked there.

“He loved seeing kids growing up to be adults who have done great things,” Zach Cobb said.

He added this: He confirmed that his father took his own life, but he wants people to remember that he was not sad in any way, that he had ideas and plans. He had retired last year and recently had gotten a diagnosis of early-onset dementia.

“He did not want to burden his family with someone with diminished capabilities,” he said.

That said, he added again, his father was not a sad person. The Garry Cobb people in the community saw and now remember was the real Garry Cobb, he said.

Garry D. Cobb was born June 23, 1956, in Marshall, Mo. He moved to Blue Springs in the early 1980s. He was active with the Blue Springs Chamber of Commerce, Blue Springs Rotary and Elks Lodge No. 2509.

Services are set for Friday. In lieu of flower, the family is asking for contributions to the Blue Springs Education Fund, which is run through the school district. His obituary appears in today’s newspaper.

Cobb won business awards -- he was the chamber’s outstanding citizen of the year in 2005 -- “but that wasn’t his goal,” Fickle said.

He was just one of those people who makes friends easily, Fickle said.

“He was connected to everybody because of who he was,” he added.

His friend always had new ideas, and he was full of life. He put it this on Facebook:

“But mostly I remember sitting down with him having great conversations with him, smoking a big fat cigar and having a glass of Maker’s on the rocks. He was just over at Side Pockets a couple of nights ago holding court and everyone was of course at his beck and call. That's who he was, people were just drawn to him.”

And he helped people, often outside the spotlight.

“I think,” Beaudoin said, “Garry gave in philanthropic ways that we’ll never know about.”