Greg Soiland, a Santa Rosa native and member of Sonoma County’s large Soiland construction and construction materials industry family, has died in an off-road crash in Mexico.
The founder of Soiland Heavy Equipment Repair, he was driving an all-terrain vehicle near Ensenada with one of his sons in the seat beside him on Friday when the Polaris RZR rolled over in a turn and struck a tree. His son, 21-year-old Jason Soiland, was not seriously hurt.
“They were only 25 miles into a 500-mile trip through Baja California,” said Shawn Soiland of Santa Rosa, the eldest of Greg Soiland’s five children.
Greg Soiland, 59, a graduate of Montgomery High School, lost his family home off Mark West Springs Road 15 months ago during the Tubbs fire. He and his wife of 34 years, Lee-Ann, then moved to Sebastopol.
Soiland was the son of Al and the late Mary Soiland and a nephew of the late Marv Soiland, who for more than 50 years was among the prominent names — along with Codding, Friedman, Nordby, Ghilotti — of the construction and materials industry in Sonoma County and the North Bay. In 1962, Marv Soiland founded the Soiland Co., which specialized in pre-construction excavation for large-scale housing and commercial building projects.
Although a cousin, Greg Soiland grew up like a brother to the children of Marv Soiland who have gone on to run area construction, asphalt, quarry and soils businesses.
Shawn Soiland said his dad and his cousins “all grew up around tractors and equipment and pipeline.”
Even as a kid, Greg Soiland was far less interested in construction work than in the essential bulldozers, backhoes and other pieces of heavy equipment. He became a heavy-equipment repairman, working initially for Peterson Caterpillar of Santa Rosa. He started his own equipment repair business in 1995.
His son said his clients included the construction-related businesses owned by his cousins.
In his free time, Soiland savored being outdoors with his wife and their five kids.
“He liked to go camping, and to do anything off-road,” son Shawn Soiland said.
Late last week, Greg Soiland and son Jason brought an off-road vehicle to northern Mexico to take part in a 17-vehicle off-road tour that began near Ensenada.
Shawn Soiland said on the first day of the driving tour his father lost control of his Polaris on a turn and the vehicle overturned and struck a tree on the driver’s side. He said his father died instantly despite wearing and being secured by safety equipment.
Soon after the Soiland family learned of the tragedy, Shawn and his brother Kevin, of Windsor, flew to San Diego from Sonoma County. They traveled from there to Ensenada and picked up their bruised and shaken younger brother and their father’s pickup and trailer.
Greg Soiland’s body has to be returned from Mexico. His family will share details of a memorial service once they are set.
“He was just a great man,” Shawn Soiland said. “He had this way of making everyone feel welcome. You could talk to him about anything.”
In addition to his three sons and his father, Greg Soiland is survived by daughters Sabrina Fox of Santa Rosa and Kelly Soiland of Cotati; brothers Chris Perry of Napa and Jeff Perry of Santa Rosa, and Eric Soiland of Walnut Creek; sister Jan Cowens of Santa Rosa; and four grandsons.