Recently, Cope Middle School received heartbreaking news: Mr. Tarbi, a history teacher who has been at our school for 33 years passed away. He passed in the night, on February 26th. Mr. Tarbi was a well-known and loved person at Cope Middle School. He graduated from the University of Santa Barbara and was one of the 8th grade history teachers at Cope. He used to be a radio DJ (there were over 500 music albums in his classroom!) and photographer; he even started the Cope fencing club and was the adviser to both the Journalism and Yearbook programs during his long teaching career. He loved his job, his co-workers, and his students.
In honor of Mr. Tarbi, we asked some of those closest to him about their favorite memory of him. Mr. Steve Walker, a retired Cope science teacher, recalled that “Mr. Tarbi was a good friend who helped me and others make the transition into the computer age! He was Cope’s Google’ who we all relied on.”
Mr. Chuck Mendoza remembers that Mr. Tarbi would always be on campus in the early morning, playing his music albums. “I would hear a concert coming out of the Y-bungalow. The T-Man would be in his room rocking out and blasting the campus with the music of his early days. Many would stop by to hang out and enjoy coffee or hot chocolate.” There was another time when Mr. Tarbi brought a cell phone jammer from Europe to stop kids from using their phones in class. “Mr. Tarbi enjoyed cell phones except when they were being used by his students.” Unfortunately, he was convinced to take it home, since interfering with telecommunication transmissions is illegal in the United States. Mr. Mendoza will always remember these fun stories and his general love for life.
Mr. Tarbi had a great sense of style, something he will be remembered for by many of us at Cope. Ms. Skoog, one of Cope’s 6th grade math teachers, shared, “Mr. Tarbi and I had worked together at Cope for over 20 years. I will forever see in my mind’s eye a dapper gentleman in a black suit and fedora standing at the front of the line at each school dance. He LOVED Cope and working with students…and he was such a kind man…I shall miss him greatly.”
Mr. Tarbi wasn’t just a music lover and a fashion model, he was a source of inspiration. Mrs. Ashley Stark remembers getting the chance to meet him on Vine Street. She recalls, “Our first conversation convinced me to commit to becoming a teacher. Later, when I became a teacher here at Cope, I always knew I could count on Mr. Tarbi for coffee from his high-tech machine, along with meaningful conversations about work and life. I will miss sitting next to him at staff meetings at the carefully selected most convenient spot next to the exit.”
Personally, I will always remember Mr. Tarbi as one of the most interesting people at the school. During his social studies class, he always had fun Zoom backgrounds, including Star Wars locations, Hogwarts, Halloween animations, and themed pictures. He always added fun facts in his lectures, ones that weren’t mentioned in our readings. Mr. Tarbi has given this school so many memories. There is a plaque in the former rose garden in the front of the school honoring his 30 years of service to Cope, and the staff is deciding on another way to honor him as well. He will be greatly missed, but his legacy will live on. Mr. Todd Fitzpatrick summed it up well when he stated, “Bill Tarbi was unique. An original. What I’ll remember most won’t be the philosopher or epicurean. It will be that Bill Tarbi was a caring, generous, kind, and gentle man.” Indeed, anyone who met him can agree to this. Rest in peace, Mr. Tarbi, and hats off to you for a job well done.”