Monday, October 14, 2019
Art DeCabooter, the former president of Scottsdale Community College and a longtime civic leader, died Wednesday after a long bout with Parkinson's disease.
He was 78 years old.
"He was a gentle giant of a man," Mary DeCabooter said. "He was nothing but kind."
DeCabooter said her husband led a plethora of organizations simultaneously across the decades of his life.
"He spread himself extremely thin and never complained and was always ready to help out anyone who needed it," DeCabooter said. "Even if it was something that wasn't really pertinent."
But he was so humble, she added, that he would downplay his accomplishments in media interviews.
"He would never acknowledge half the stuff he did," DeCabooter said. "And I think that's why he married me. (He) kept me at his right-hand side and then I'd tell everybody around me how fabulous he was."
DeCabooter said her husband was diagnosed with Parkinson's disease in 2005, but noted that he remained active within their community until shortly before his death.
Former Maricopa County Supervisor Jim Bruner, a former Scottsdale City Council member and a longtime friend of DeCabooter's, said the man helped a struggling Scottsdale Community College start to thrive.
"He truly transformed that college from a small little school to sort of an institution that really made an impact in his community," Bruner said of DeCabooter's 30-year tenure before retiring in 2008.
It wasn't the only leadership position DeCabooter held.
"He was a leader of almost every civic group in town," Bruner said. "He was president of the Scottsdale Charros, president of Scottsdale Rotary Club and president of the Scottsdale Chamber of Commerce."
He held those leadership positions simultaneously, Bruner added.
DeCabooter also served on the board of trustees for the Virginia G. Piper Charitable Trust as well as the advisory board for Xavier College Preparatory, where a celebration of life is expected to be held Nov. 23.
"He just was a true public servant in every sense of the word," Bruner said. "Very humble. I don't think I've ever heard anybody ever say anything negative about him."
His many accomplishments did not go unnoticed. He awarded as a "2019 Historymaker" by Historical League, Inc., which supports the Arizona Historical Society and the Arizona Heritage Center.
Don Ruff, another longtime DeCabooter friend, echoed many Bruner's sentiments.
"As far as community service, community leadership, he was a giant in his time," Ruff said. "There's few people that have given more to the community than he did throughout all his years as president of Scottsdale Community College and also into his retirement."
DeCabooter quelled tensions between administrators at Scottsdale Community College and its students, which during an era of campus unrest several years before his arrival had adopted "Artie the Artichoke" as the school's mascot as a way to protest its sports program.
"He basically took it over and smoothed everything out," Ruff said.
Reach the reporter Perry Vandell at 602-444-2474 or email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter @PerryVandell.