Rich Perez won’t soon be forgotten. Perez, a lifelong Gilroyan and former San Jose Sharks employee, was 64 years old when he died on April 28 due to complications from encephalitis. A commemorative bench was made in his honor and is stationed at the 10th hole of the Gilroy Golf Course.
The bench was installed on Aug. 5, three days before the 16th annual Bandito Golf Tournament, an event Perez regularly played in. Funds from Perez’s GoFundMe account that brought in more than $90,000 was used to pay for the commemorative bench. After the tournament’s completion, a couple of golfers had words of appreciation for Perez.
“Rich used to golf at Gilroy Golf Course with his buddies all the time,” said Bobby Vasquez, who is one of Perez’s closest nephews. “It was a lot of fun and a great way to remember Rich.”
Steve Maroni was part of the winning team of the Bandito Tournament, a 2-man, best-ball event. Maroni and Perez worked together at the Shark Tank and perhaps it was only fitting Maroni won the event for the first time. Vasquez said proceeds from the tournament were donated to the Aubri Brown Club, a non-profit organization that raises money to help families who have lost a child.
The 10th hole is situated on top of a hill and has a great view of Gilroy. Maroni had the bench constructed at the 10th hole because he and Perez used that hole often to determine who won their matches, Vasquez said. Perez’s gregarious personality and passion as a mail-room coordinator with the Sharks endeared him to countless people. One of his signature phrases—“Enjoy the view and I’ll take care of you”—is engraved on the bench.
“He would take care of you beyond what you asked for,” Vasquez said.