Former Squamish mayor Egon Tobus has died.
Tobus, who served as mayor from 1984 to ’88 and ’90 to ’93, and as alderman (councillor) from 1977 to 1984, passed away on Thursday (Jan. 30) after a brief illness. He was 78.
Egon Hans Tobus was born March 17, 1935, in Berlin, Germany. His daughter, Dona Newell, on Monday (Feb. 3) said young Egon was originally sent to an orphanage, but that his parents took him back into their family after the Second World War, when he was 11.
As a young man, he took up boxing and had 50 professional fights in Germany before retiring from the ring. He came to Canada in 1959 or ’60, Newell said.
“He used to tell me that he closed his eyes and put his finger down on a map and it hit Canada,” she said.
Tobus met the woman who was to be his wife of 50 years, Maria, not long after entering the country. A trained sheet-metal mechanic, he was recruited to work at the Woodfibre pulp mill. The family lived for seven years in the company town before moving to Squamish, she said.
The couple had three children — Dona, Steven and Thomas. Thomas died in a car crash in 1983. Egon Tobus is survived by wife Maria, Dona, Steven and four grandchildren.
Despite his hardscrabble upbringing, Tobus was a gentle, thoughtful man and loving husband, father and grandfather, Newell said.
“The thing I can’t get over is that as much as he went through as a young person, he never held anger against people,” Newell said. “I am very lucky to know that my father loved me unconditionally. I had no issues with my parents. My father taught me integrity, honesty and hard work. He was a good, good man.”
Corinne Lonsdale, who served on council with Tobus during the 1980s and twice ran against him for mayor, said she regarded Tobus as a mentor and friend.
“I think he would like to be remembered as a man who was principled, thoughtful, compassionate, fair and respectful,” Lonsdale wrote in an email to The Chief. “He was a good listener and had a great sense of humour. He was all those things... a good man and one I was privileged to work with.
“If it appeared the aldermen (councillors) were going to be split down the middle on a vote, he always would vote negatively… because in his opinion it meant we needed to give the subject more thought and discussion. I thought that was excellent advice and tried to follow throughout my time as mayor.”
Mayor Rob Kirkham said in a statement, “It is with sadness that the district heard about the passing of former mayor Egon Tobus. Mr. Tobus served as an alderman and then mayor for a total of 14 years on council.”
“Such leaders deserve our respect and appreciation for dedicating themselves to a public life, and we recognize him again today for his long-standing commitment to community service. Our condolences go out to the family and friends of Mr. Tobus. It is a loss to our community.”
A memorial is planned on Friday (Feb. 7) at 4 p.m. at Squamish Funeral Chapel. In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to the Squamish Hospital Foundation or the B.C. Heart and Stroke Foundation. To sign a book of condolences, visit www.squamishfuneralchapel.com