Park ranger with a 'very big heart' dies at 53


Robert Kiliona, who lived alone in the cottage behind the Woodside Store county museum on Tripp Road in Woodside, was a county park ranger in his day job at Coyote Point Recreation Area in San Mateo. During his off-duty hours at home in the cottage owned by the county, he made himself available for security services at Huddart Park and the store/museum.

Mr. Kiliona, referred to as The Gentle Ranger by those who knew him, worked for the Parks Department for 27 years, San Mateo County Park Superintendent Scott Lombardi told The Almanac.

He was 53 when he died on March 16, according to a report from the county Coroner's Office. His colleagues held a barbecue in his honor, Mr. Lombardi said.

He was a professional with "a very big heart" – kind, approachable and open to conversation, Mr. Lombardi said, adding: "He would help anybody."

Mr. Kiliona came to the Parks Department in 1989 to assist with garbage handling, Park Ranger Ty Kang said in a written recollection. After brief periods with the Public Works Department, he was hired as a full-time ranger and assigned to Coyote Point, Mr. Kang said.

Over time, Mr. Kiliona took on training of park aides and rangers. As a ranger, he tended to take on the duties of the most challenging shift the nightly closing of the park, Mr. Kang said.

"He was a really good dude," Mr. Lombardi said. "I can't say enough about him as far as he impacted peoples' lives. He was a great human being."

First responders called on Mr. Kiliona for security assistance at Huddart Park when firefighters fought the Skeggs Fire that burned about 50 acres of vegetation in the forested hills above Woodside in September 2017, Mr. Lombardi said.

"He was very well liked and respected by his co-workers/fellow Rangers and he cared for all of us as family," Mr. Kang said in his written comments. "I can say that he truly loved his job as a Park Ranger and cared about everyone he worked with. He will be dearly missed."


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