Tuesday, November 13 , 2018, 7:50 pm | Fair 58º


Former County Supervisor Tom Urbanske Remembered for Kindness

Tom Urbanske Click to view larger
Tom Urbanske

Tom Urbanske, a former member of the Santa Barbara County Board of Supervisors and Santa Maria City Council, was being remembered Monday as "a dedicated public servant who displayed kindness and empathy," according to a a county statement. 

Urbanske, a retired educator who represented the Fifth District on the Board of Supervisors from 1995 to 2002, died Thursday at the age of 88.

“Tom was way ahead of his time,” said Fifth District Supervisor Steve Lavagnino. “He was committed to improving the community and creating opportunities to address the needs of the homeless, mentally ill and veterans. 

“I offer my deepest condolences to his family, friends and the constituents he served with grace and compassion," Lavagnino added.

The county released a statement Monday expressing sadness at Urbanske's death.

"Former Supervisor Urbanske will be missed by all those who worked with him and those he served," the county statement said. "Supervisors and county staff alike send thoughts and deepest sympathies to his family at this time."

Urbanske also had served on the Santa Maria City Council for 16 non-consecutive years, starting in 1972 and ending in 1995 when he joined the Board of Supervisors.

“He really cared about people and he was a very good listener,” Mayor Alice Patino said. “He took his job very seriously as an elected representative because he wanted to know what people thought. He really cared. He consistently embodied advocating for people who could not advocate for themselves.”

However, to many Santa Maria Valley students he was simple “Mr. U,” having taught various subjects at Santa Maria High School for 31 years. He later served on the Santa Maria-Bonita school board for five years. 

Through the years, he was active with several nonprofit organizations, including the the Good Samaritan Shelter, Catholic Charities, the Committee to Improve North County, CASA, and many others.

“He was a broker in that he wanted to make everyone happy, with a goal of finding middle ground,” Santa Maria Recreation and Parks Director Alex Posada said.

In 2016, Santa Maria officials celebrated the naming of the Tom Urbanske Multipurpose Trail on the river levee, recognizing the man’s role in spearheading efforts to allow recreational uses on the levee trail.

“Tom cared for our residents and always tried to make life better and speak for those who cannot speak for themselves,” Patino wrote in a letter read by Councilman Etta Waterfield during the 2016 dedication ceremony.

“Tom was always about fairness in making decisions and how his decisions would affect everyone.”

It was a common sight to see Urbanske riding his bike or jogging around town.

Survivors include his wife, Barbara Mae; children Moneka (husband Robert Muehlbauer); Stan (wife Mary); Veroneka Reade; Thereece (husband Randy Hahn); brother Dave; nine grandchildren and seven great-grandchildren,

A memorial Mass will be celebrated at 1:30 p.m. Friday at St. Mary of the Assumption Church, 414 E. Church St., Santa Maria.

In lieu of flowers, the family asked that donations may be made to Catholic Charities. 

Funeral arrangements are under the care of Magner-Maloney Funeral Home and Crematory.

Noozhawk North County editor Janene Scully can be reached at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address). Follow Noozhawk on Twitter: @noozhawk, @NoozhawkNews and @NoozhawkBiz. Connect with Noozhawk on Facebook.

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