Riverside Forest products pioneer Gerald Raboch passes at 94

Lumber pioneer passes

An Okanagan lumber industry pioneer has died.

Gerald Raboch passed March 12 in Vernon at the age of 94.

Raboch was born Oct. 8, 1928, in Enderby and worked alongside his father in the family milling business, Raboch Sawmills.

He grew up in Trinity Valley, in the family home next to his grandparents' farm.

After graduation, he and his father purchased a portable mill and expanded the company, bringing in W.H. Steele Lumber as a partner.

Raboch's obituary says he and Gordon Steele then expanded what became known as Riverside Forest Products on the banks of the Shuswap River to include operations in Williams Lake, Armstrong, Lumby, Kelowna, and New Westminster.

"From just a little-two man startup, the business quickly flourished and grew incredibly large," and by the time they sold in 2004 they had more than 3,800 employees as well as a logging division.

Tolko Industries, headquartered in Vernon, took over the company at that point.

Raboch was passionate about the forest industry and became an influential figure on the industry's provincial scene.

He enjoyed his retired years golfing, at the cabin on Okanagan Lake, and wintering in Arizona.

As requested, there will not be a formal service.

Raboch is survived by his wife Phyllis, brother Alvin, and extended family.

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