Obituary Listings

Herbert Vincent Tobias

October 28, 1935 May 23, 2018
Herbert  Vincent Tobias
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Obituary for Herbert Vincent Tobias

Herbert V. Tobias
From the time he arrived in the Shaw neighborhood of Washington, DC, on October 28, 1935, Herb Tobias opened his arms to everything he encountered. His basic education encompassed Catholic school, public school, and military academy. His college years were at Virginia State for his undergraduate and Montclair State (NJ) for graduate degrees, where he majored in health and physical education, lettered in football, basketball, and wrestling, was “all CIA” and later was inducted into the VSU Sports Hall of Fame for football. Not content with the normal curriculum, he trained under and assisted team doctors in sports medicine and became certified to teach both elementary and secondary health and physical education. What he became known for around campus was his hard-charging style on the athletic field, his sartorial flair, his sense of rhythm on the dance floor, his enthusiasm for life and his warm embrace of, and concern for, the welfare of others. With graduation came the opportunity of the Peace Corps. Challenged and intrigued by working abroad, learning from different cultures and contributing to a wide array of audiences, he spent his career embracing the world. As an educator, he taught full-time in five colleges or universities from Iran and Afghanistan in the Middle East to Kenya and Liberia in Africa, to Essex County College in Newark, NJ. He taught in secondary schools in Brazil, Thailand, Trenton, NJ, and Washington, DC, and he taught in elementary schools in Hong Kong, the Dominican Republic, and California. He also taught at the Experiment in International Living (Vermont), the YMCA (Manhattan), and Job Corps (Edison, NJ). He incorporated his skill as an athletic trainer into his program, as well as his drumming, wherever he went. Career highlights included introducing athletic training to, and being the trainer for, the Kenyan Olympic Team in 1968 when Kipchoge Keino brought Africa onto the world stage in long-distance running. He continued to serve that team through two Commonwealth Games, the 1972 and 1976 Olympics and various USA-Africa meets. At the height of the Cold War, when Somalia was a military dictatorship heavily influenced by the Soviet Union and China, he was asked to develop their national basketball team. He was then asked to lead the new team on a Friendship Tour of China, years before the U.S. had reestablished diplomatic relations there, but for which the U.S. government gave him special permission. He joined a jam session with Duke Ellington in Afghanistan, served as athletic trainer to John McEnroe and Ilie Nastase during their ATP tour to Hong Kong, was an escort to Muhammad Ali in Liberia during his tour in West Africa, and served as tennis partner to the first President Bush during his official visit to Brazil. When debilitating illness after retirement prevented his continuing teaching of sports medicine, he turned to music, his life-long avocation, and joined other musicians in playing at children’s programs. Awards, certificates, and trophies he has won for his teaching and sports cover multiple walls and shelves; the lives he has touched through sports and music have been in the hundreds, but he has never been a political man nor a seeker of power. His was a life that honored everyone, invited all to join in a global community, and brought health and happiness to others through education, sport, and music. Overcome in the end by a combination of the multi-year progression of mental and physical illnesses our medical science does not yet understand, he died peacefully on May 23, 2018, leaving a family and the many who knew him to take pleasure in the memories of his joie de vivre, the gift he shared so freely with everyone. Services private. Online condolences and fond memories of Herb may be offered to the family at


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