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He was laid-back and quiet, and not the type to brag about his many accomplishments. But the family he left behind gushed about his loving nature, impressive golf game, 21 years of service in the U.S. Army and the three jobs he held to support six children.

Rudolph "Joe" Cota, who had worked as a district manager for The Press Democrat, died in Santa Rosa Oct. 2 at the age of 80.

"Just a very devoted family man," said his daughter, Dora Azevedo of Windsor. "He was very private, very modest, but yet such a valuable human being."

Cota was born in Ventura, Calif., and had his first paper route at age 7. He joined the U.S. Army at age 15 by lying about his age with his parent's permission. Family said he worked in Army security, interpreting Morse code. He served in the Vietnam War and over the years was stationed in Thailand, the Philippines, Alaska, Maryland, Massachusetts and Kansas, his daughter said.

Even while he was in the Army, Cota took extra jobs, including selling bibles and working as a doorman, to support his growing family.

"He was a very hard-working person," said his wife, Linda Cota of Santa Rosa. "It was for our family that he did all of this."

Cota was an avid reader. From war stories and politics to Danielle Steele novels, his reading taste was eclectic, his daughter said. He often checked with his children to make sure they had read the newspaper that day.

Cota was active in sports such as swimming, biking and running, but his greatest athletic passion was for golf. He was a member of the Bennett Valley Golf Club and a marshal at Bodega Harbor Golf Course. Over the years, he managed to score seven holes-in-one.

"He would never really talk about it, and I never really knew growing up how rare it was in the sport," Azevedo said. "He didn't brag about it."

Yet he was a huge supporter of his children's sports achievements, always encouraging them to stay active and healthy.

"He tried to come to every event," said Azevedo, who played soccer, volleyball and baseball and was a swimmer and cheerleader. "He would say, &‘If you don't have your health, you don't have anything.'"

Cota taught his children the value of honesty, gently encouraging them to do the right thing and to, for example, return extra change they accidentally got from a cashier. He was a founding member and former council member of Resurrection Parish Catholic Church in Santa Rosa.

"He'd pull over a lot to help anybody," Azevedo said. "He had some great family values."

In addition to his wife Linda M. Cota and daughter Dora Azevedo, Cota is survived by daughters Yolanda Cota, Linda E. Cota and Marie Knowles, all of of Santa Rosa, and Rachel Haynes of San Francisco, and son Joseph A. Cota of Santa Rosa, and by 19 grandchildren and 17 great-grandchildren. He also is survived by sisters Rachel Madrigal and Judy Silva, and brother Ruben Saldana.

A funeral mass was held on Friday at Resurrection Parish Catholic Church. Inurnment will be held at Oak Mound Cemetery, Healdsburg, Calif. on Monday at 11 a.m. Donations in his memory may be made to the Rudolph Joe Cota Memorial Fund, c/o any Exchange Bank branch.

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