Issue:  Vol. 48 / No. 8 / 22 February 2018

Former Pendulum bar owner dies


Rade "Rod" Kobila Ratkovic
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Rade "Rod" Kobila Ratkovic, the former longtime owner of the Pendulum bar in the Castro District, died Sunday February 3 following a struggle with multiple myeloma. He was 69.

Known in the Castro as Rod Kobila, he purchased the Pendulum in 1969 with his business partner Michael Frowley. In recent years, until its closure in July 2005, the bar was the only one in the Castro that catered to gay African American men.

The Pendulum was the subject of a lawsuit surrounding its ownership. Les Natali, who owns Badlands, ended up with ownership of the Pendulum after he and John MacNeil, who had sought to purchase the bar, mediated an out of court settlement. Natali had come under fire from some community members for closing the bar down and firing its staff. A sign in the window had announced a December 2007 opening but to date the bar remains shuttered.

A former manager at the Pendulum said he mourned the loss of Mr. Kobila.

"Rod was a friend and mentor whom I looked up to with the greatest respect," Berin Nakamura, the former general manager, wrote in an e-mail.

Mr. Kobila was not gay, but was a strong supporter of the community, Nakamura said. "His contribution to the gay community far succeeded what most within the gay community did for each other or even ourselves."

According to an obituary published in the Marin Independent-Journal, Mr. Kobila was born in Doli, Dubrovnik, Croatia in 1938. As a teenager, he fled communist oppression. In 1958 he found his way to the Gulf Coast and ultimately to relatives in New Jersey. However, he was deported to Australia, There, he worked at a variety of jobs, including the craft of bartending. He settled in San Francisco in 1964. He became a U.S. citizen in 1983.

Mr. Kobila later relocated to Novato, where he enjoyed gardening. He was a contributor to AIDS research, the Special Olympics, and the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society.

Nakamura recalled that Mr. Kobila was always welcoming of others. "He always encouraged those who felt outcast and ostracized and encouraged them to make the Pendulum their home, their port of acceptance, and comfort," he said.

Mr. Kobila is survived by his former wife, Nancy Morais, of Novato; his goddaughters Anita Tepsic, Matea Marusic, and Kaja Lynn Knapp; cousins Charles Karach and Mae Dickman of New Jersey; cousin Miho Marusic; and nephews Niko Kobila and Miksa Ratovick.

A memorial service was held February 9 in Novato. Family and friends request that in lieu of flowers, donations be made to a charity in Mr. Kobila's memory.

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