Editor’s note: As part of the 40th anniversary of McKnight’s, McKnight’s Senior Living and McKnight’s Long-Term Care News are recognizing 40 notable newsmakers. Each week, the brands will highlight a new, high-profile leader from the past four decades. Find previously published installments of the series here.

In the business world, there arguably has been no executive more beloved than Granger Cobb. 

That’s how he was described and remembered by colleagues after his death from cancer in 2015 at age 55 . During his time here, Cobb served as a true pioneer and leader for the senior living industry. 

After graduating from the University of California, Los Angeles, in the early 1980s, Cobb began in the industry as an executive director for a senior living community. In the late 1980s, he and his wife, Tina, founded Cobbco Inc., a California-based assisted living company. 

The firm was later acquired by Summerville Senior Living in 1998, and from 2000 to 2007, Cobb became the parent company’s president and CEO. 

His most notable work may have come after Summerville merged with Emeritus Senior Living in 2007, where he was named president and co-CEO. Under his leadership, the company reached more than 31,000 employees, serving nearly 54,000 residents in more than 500 communities in 45 states. 

Cobb also was a key player in the merger between Emeritus and Brookdale Senior Living, an eye-popping $2.8 billion deal that created the largest senior living company in the United States. He served as a member of Brookdale’s board of directors after the deal closed.

In addition to his work as a company executive, Cobb also served several industry organizations, including the National Investment Center for Seniors Housing and Care, the American Seniors Housing Association, Argentum (then called the Assisted Living Federation of America) and the California Assisted Living Association. 

Most recently, his work was honored by Washington State University’s School of Hospitality Business Management in September 2019, when it formally dedicated the Granger Cobb Institute for Senior Living. 

Cobb, along with four other senior living executives, helped build the university’s senior living curriculum and taught a senior housing administration course there for students. It is through these and other efforts that his active legacy lives on.