Bob Case, former chair of Sam Houston State University’s health and kinesiology department and past director of athletics, died unexpectedly Monday night at the age of 64.

One of Case’s five children, Josh Gibson, described him as positive and friendly, and he is not the only one who feels that way.

“When people think of Bob Case, they think of a positive guy who was nothing but smiles,” Josh said. “He was the friendliest man and that’s what we’ve been getting phone calls about all morning.”

Case died Monday night while working in the backyard of his Montgomery home. Josh said the family is shocked by the death, since he was in good shape and feeling great.

“He just got through training a person at Bentwater Country Club, which he did on the side, and was perfectly fine,” Josh said. “As a matter of fact, last week he had a physical and was cleared with a clean bill all the way through.”

Case worked at Sam Houston State University from 1983 until his death, serving as the chair of the health and kinesiology department for 22 years. Case was a professor and chair of health and kinesiology from 1983 until 2003 and athletic director as well from 1990-92. For much of that time, he also wrote his column “Health Matters” for The Huntsville Item.

“There were thousands of students and coaches who came through that he impacted,” Josh said. “He was such a supporter of that university and the city of Huntsville.”

Bob Marlin, coach of the SHSU men’s basketball team, was good friends with Case and said one of the things he will remember most about him is how he went out of his way to support Bearkat athletics, and he did so with great joy.

“He was always supportive, always positive and upbeat,” Marlin said. “He really went out of his way to make me feel welcome when I came to Sam Houston. He came to our games and would call after big wins and say how proud he was of what we were doing. He was always supportive and really liked coming to the big games.”

Equal to his support of Bearkat athletics was his support of his hometown Chicago Cubs. Case was born in Chicago in 1941 and never was shy about where his baseball allegiance was.

“We talked a lot about the Cardinals and Cubs,” Marlin said. “I’m a Cardinal and he’s a Cub and he used to call me up in, well, the middle of May usually, and say, ‘Wait ‘till next year.’”

While many people saw Case as a Bearkat fan or a Cubs fan, his daughter, Jennifer Gibson, knew what was most important to her father.

“His family was his life,” she said. “He loved to go fishing. They had bought a house here on Lake Conroe and it was his dream to live out on a lake and be out here.”

Case’s funeral service will be held at Huntsville’s First Baptist Church on Thursday at 4 p.m. under the direction of Sam Houston Memorial Funeral Home.