Feb. 27, 1942 to Dec. 23, 2009
With deepest sadness, Bea and Mike announce the passing of our beloved husband and father at Red Deer Regional Hospital on Wednesday, December 23, 2009. John was born in Pennsylvania, USA, the eldest of five children of John William and Eva Amelia Jean Tobias. In 1964, in pursuit of adventure and post-graduate education he arrived in Edmonton to study history at the University of Alberta. There he met Bea and they have been partners and best friends for 45 years. He also fell in love with Canada, and its prairies, mountains, and rivers, and came to know more about our history than many born Canadians. Highlights in John’s life were the arrival of his sons, Paul in 1977 and Michael in 1978, and very special grandson Cole in 2000. Family celebrations and milestones were important and he made time for them in his busy schedule. John completed his MA and Ph.D., taught and did historical research for several years before accepting his job teaching at Red Deer College in 1975. His role evolved to include college leadership as a Dean, Board member and as Faculty President. But his passion during his 30 years at the college was teaching. For John, history was not about dates, facts and wars, but about why things happened, with many entertaining stories along the way to make his points. He challenged himself as well as his students to think objectively about current and historical events. John’s research for the Federation of Saskatchewan Indians led him to the National Archives in Ottawa, where in the days before computers, he read dusty handwritten papers, letters, and microfilm, and took thousands of pages of notes. Later he wrote several historical articles which have been widely read and used by other researchers and students of First Nations history. He has participated in the Central Alberta Historical Society and other history organizations, and has given papers about his research at the Red Deer and District and Museum and various history conferences. Some of John’s interests include golf (though impatient with his own game, he was an exceptionally patient coach for Bea), barbequing everything that could be cooked, hiking Johnson’s Canyon, classical and folk music, sports (a loyal fan of the Esks, Oilers, and NY Giants). But he was a reader above all. Most amazingly, John remembered almost everything he read, whether histories, spy novels, newspapers, or sports. As a result, he was unbeatable at Trivial Pursuit. Loving family ties include John’s wife Bea, son Mike, grandson Cole, brother Richard of Hershey, PA, brother Leonard (Myra) of Myerstown PA, nephews Chris and Terry Tobias and their families; niece Lisa ( Fred )Shaneybrook of Phoenix MD and their children; Amelia, Bailey, Landon and Leland; sisters Ruth (Mike) Schueller of Markham, ON, Susan (Glen) Binnington of Edmonton, AB, brother-in-law, Lawrence (Carol McVanny) Lucow of White Rock, BC, nephews; Ezra, Jared and Zane Lucow; Josh and Michael Binnington; and numerous grand nieces , nephews and cousins. John was predeceased by his dearly loved son Paul in 2004, his sister Nancy in 2004, his parents Jean and John, and his youngest brother Dale. At John’s request there will be no funeral service. Please join us to remember John at an informal gathering in his memory on Saturday, January 9th, 2010 at 1:30 p.m. at the Harvest Centre, Westerner Park, 4847 A – 19th Street, Red Deer, AB. Condolences may be forwarded to the family at
We are especially thankful that Lisa’s family from Maryland was able to make a very long voyage to visit their Uncle John in August. Our hearts are thankful for the care that was given to John and our family by paramedics, ER and ICU doctors and nurses; Dr. Jim and Dr. Reimer. Memorial Donations in John’s memory may be made to the Red Deer Regional Hospital, Kidney Foundation or Canadian Diabetes Association. In living memory of John Luke Tobias a tree will be planted in the Parkland Funeral Home and Crematorium Memorial Tree Park in Red Deer County, AB. Arrangements are entrusted to Parkland Funeral Home and Crematorium.