By Mika Rekai - Monday, November 12, 2012 - 0 Comments
An adrenalin junkie who travelled the world in search of adventure, he had returned to university to finish his final year
Gareth Aled Coombes was born in Winnipeg on May 18, 1989, to Vanessa Coombes, an administrative assistant with the provincial government and a single mom. The night he was born, Jan Wiebe, one of Vanessa’s best friends, remembers sneaking into the hospital after visiting hours to meet the baby. She and Vanessa spent the whole night grinning, giving Gareth kisses and counting his toes.
When Gareth was two, he and his mother moved to Victoria, so Vanessa could care for her elderly mother, whom Gareth called “Nainey.” Vanessa loved taking Gareth to nearby beaches, where they searched for curly moon shells or, after nightfall, watched the stars. When Gareth started kindergarten, Vanessa would take his classmates to beaches too, forging friendships with the other moms as Gareth and his pals climbed up on rocks and splashed in the water.
Gareth, a mischievous boy with a “big, toothy grin,” made friends easily, says Jan. From a young age, he was passionate about space. He knew the names of dozens of stars and dreamed of becoming an astronaut. As a boy, he’d have his mother measure him often to make sure he didn’t exceed NASA’s maximum allowable height for astronaut candidates: six foot four. When he hit six foot five, he was forced to work out a new plan: he would become a successful businessman and travel to space as a tourist. Continue…