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Obituary: Rebecca Tobias ’66

Rebecca (neé Lawrence) Tobias, Antioch College class of 1966, died March 31, 2010. Wife of Stephen Tobias, Antioch College class of 1966. Mother of Jacob Tobias and Zachary Tobias. Sister of Susan Lawrence of Kansas City. Relatives and friends are invited to Funeral Services Fri. 1 P.M. precisely at Goldsteins’ Rosenberg’s Raphael Sacks, 6410 N. Broad St. Int. West Laurel Hills Cem. Family will return to her late residence.

Rebecca Lawrence Tobias, social worker, ceramic artist

By Sally A. Downey

Inquirer Staff Writer

Rebecca Lawrence Tobias, 67, of Mount Airy, a social worker and ceramic artist, died of brain cancer Wednesday, March 31, at the Visiting Nurse Association's Hospice of Philadelphia.

Mrs. Tobias ended a 40-year career in March 2008 when she retired as director of social work at Living Independently for Elders (LIFE). A decade earlier, she helped establish the program, which is sponsored by the University of Pennsylvania School of Nursing and benefits several hundred older adults in West Philadelphia.

Previously, Mrs. Tobias had been volunteer coordinator at Wissahickon Hospice, had provided social services for the home-care program at Fox Chase Cancer Center, had provided social services to geriatric patients at Albert Einstein Medical Center, and was a social worker in Kentucky and California.

She also lectured, trained and conducted workshops for professionals, volunteers, and the public.

"She believed social benefits are a right, not a privilege, and was a fierce advocate for her clients," her husband, Stephen Tobias, said.

Mrs. Tobias' ceramics were exhibited at local galleries, and her contemporary soup tureen was in a show at the Campbell Museum in Camden. Her work won awards at juried shows, including at the Main Line Art Center. In 1990 and 1992, she was one of the organizers of "Art at the Armory," an artist-run exhibit and sale featuring the work of 400 artists.

Mrs. Tobias grew up in Kansas City, Mo. She earned a bachelor's degree from Antioch College in Ohio and a master's degree in social work from Wayne State University in Michigan.

She and her husband met in college and married in 1968. They traveled extensively and lived in Morocco for four years in the 1970s when he was working for the American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee. They moved to Philadelphia in 1987 when he took a position with the American Jewish Congress.

In January, Mrs. Tobias and her husband were featured in the four-part PBS television series This Emotional Life. They appeared in the first episode, "Family, Friends, and Lovers," as an example of a couple who had benefited from marriage therapy.

She was a frequent contributor to The Inquirer's letters to the editor column on a variety of subjects including politics, education, and the Phillies.

In addition to her husband, Mrs. Tobias is survived by sons Jacob and Zachary, and a sister.

The funeral was Friday, April 2, at Goldsteins' Rosenberg's Raphael-Sacks Memorial Chapel in Philadelphia. Burial was in West Laurel Hill Cemetery, Bala Cynwyd.

Memorial donations may be made to Antioch College, Yellow Springs, Ohio, 45387.