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Sunday, December 16 , 2018, 8:37 am | Fair 42º


Friends React with Sadness to Death of Gifted Guitarist Gilbert Herrera

The 47-year-old, whose body was found beneath the Cold Springs Bridge, had shared his love of music with many in the Santa Barbara community

“Dedicated” and “diligent” were words used to describe 47-year-old Gilbert Herrera, as those who knew him reacted with sadness Tuesday to news of the Santa Barbara man’s death.

Known as a gifted guitarist who played at joyous events such as weddings and at many of the senior-living facilities in town, Herrera shared his love of music with many before his death last weekend.

Investigators are still trying to determine the circumstances leading to Herrera’s death.

His body was discovered Sunday morning beneath the Cold Springs Bridge, according to the Santa Barbara County Sheriff’s Department.

Dispatch workers received a call the preceding evening that a person may have jumped off the bridge, and a missing-persons report was filed, but crews could not begin searching until the next day because of the falling darkness.

Herrera’s car, found near the bridge, had been towed by the California Highway Patrol, and he had not been seen by family members in several days, sheriff’s officials reported.

Herrera had been playing guitar since his early teenage years, according to the biography on his website, and went on to graduate with an associate’s degree in music with honors at Santa Barbara City College.

Herrera then studied at UC Santa Cruz, the University of Oregon as a jazz studies graduate student and joined Royal Caribbean’s Enchantment of the Seas as the guitarist in its big band orchestra before coming back to Santa Barbara, where he taught private guitar lessons for several years at Instrumental Music, and performed music at private weddings and other events.

Herrera also worked at the Granada Theatre for nearly two years as a front of house assistant.

“We at the Santa Barbara Center for the Performing Arts were privileged to have had the opportunity to work with Gilbert, are better people for having known him, and deeply saddened by today’s news,” said Craig Springer, executive director at the SBCPA. “It is always a tragedy when a person of any age passes away before their time. All of us at the SBCPA offer our condolences to Gilbert’s family at what is most certainly a trying time for them.”

SBCC spokeswoman Joan Galvan also confirmed that Herrera was employed there as a part-time tutor in English as a Second Language and music from June 2011 until the time of his death.

“He was a dedicated member of our campus community who worked diligently every day to help ensure the success of each of our students,” she told Noozhawk. “On behalf of the college, we were very sorry to learn of Gilbert’s untimely passing and extend our sincere condolences to his family, loved ones and friends.”

Herrera also worked in the Santa Barbara County Education Office for nearly four years as a digital media and audiovisual tech.

Steven Keithley, director of teacher programs and support, who was Herrera’s supervisor at the Santa Barbara County Education Office, said Tuesday that he would be missed.

“We’re grateful for the work he did while he was here, and we’re really saddened by this news,” he said.

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Noozhawk staff writer Lara Cooper 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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