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Jeff Tobes - Teacher - Historian - Leader - Walked his Talk


Jeff Tobes - Teacher - Historian - Leader - Walked his Talk

Historian, Teacher, Leader Jeff Tobes dies at 68

By Vesta Copestakes

Here’s a man who walked his talk. Anyone who knew, and was influenced by Jeff Tobes, knows that walking was a tool Jeff used to inspire people. From walks around the campus where he taught students for more than 3 decades, to his famous 25-mile walks around town, to the coast and back – around San Francisco, wherever Jeff felt people would benefit from a combination of exercise, community, and learning about where we live along the way.

Jeff Tobes leads 144 people to TomalesThe majority of Jeff’s teaching career was spent at Forestville elementary school where students got excited about being in his classroom, and those who had other teachers were jealous. But anyone could have a touch of his enthusiasm if they wanted to learn history.

One of the projects Mr. Tobes became famous for was re-naming the town after Mr. Forrester, making refrigerator magnets for everyone to take home, and placing signs around town naming all the original businesses from when the town first sprang out of the dirt trail that ran north to south. A little sign stuck in the dirt in front of a bush declared that THIS was the spot of Jewett’s ice Cream parlor.

Jeff knew that history was an important way to learn about who came before us so worked with the local historical society to document our past. From the Forestville Historical Society to the Sonoma County Historical Society, Jeff influenced people to be curious about history, to document stories that might be lost, and to interview people before their tales of times past got lost when they died.

Now Jeff’s story needs to be documented so that his life accomplishments do not fade with time. Sonoma County's History Day and the Sonoma County Historical Society are near and dear o his heart. For people who want to keep his legend alive, please donate funds in his memory to Sonoma County Historical Society, PO Box 1371, Santa Rosa, CA 95402. And take a walk … lots of walks … lots of LONG walks to ponder the past and keep yourself alive for the present. Thank you Jeff, you left a trail across our hearts and minds.



I was extremely saddened to hear of Jeff Tobe's passing. He was my children's teacher at Forestville School during their passage through fifth and sixth grade. Every school night was an adventure when we asked them what the homework was that night. He was demanding. He was thorough. There was always a challenge. There were awards at the end of each school year, and a lot of parents showed up for his "Culmination." We sat there, relieved for both our kids and for ourselves -- thank goodness school was over for the year. We could take a homework break! And now my kids are grown and live out of town. And now I have to tell them Mr.Tobes has gone on. I dread that moment. I am not sure I can tell them without pause. He was, and is still, one of the most important people in their young lives.  He taught them something much more than dates and places.He taught them how to think for themselves and be self-sufficient. They never looked back after those years. He would be proud of them. I thank you Jeff. You were my friend. You made my children strong. You were a great teacher. You found the very best in all of us and let it breathe. May you continue your walk.

Brad Smith