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Phonse Tobin: An Anything but Ordinary Life (Laurie McCalman Presentation)

Thursday 9 May • 7:00 pm - 8:00 pm

Gold Coin Donation
Image Phonse Tobin

Hear the story of Phonse Tobin who began Australia’s most successful family-owned funeral service company with his brothers – Tobin Brothers Funerals. From trapping rats for pocket money to being a long serving member of the North Melbourne Football Club committee, his life was rich with history.

Born in 1905, Phonse followed soldiers as they marched to the wharves to depart for WW1. After leaving school he worked as a storeman, salesman, soldier and fireman.

A natural entertainer with a fine singing voice, he produced many amateur theatrical productions in the 1930s. A good all-round sportsman and successful professional footrunner, his time on the North Melbourne Football Club committee included a run as President (1955 to 1957).

Phonse was one of those rare characters who could meet, communicate and be at ease with people from all walks of life.

Like everyone else, he had his failings. But these failings were more than offset by his strength of character, generous spirit, creative flair, kindness to people in need, and his love for and undying support of his family.

Des Tobin, writer, speaker and storyteller, will share his Father’s story – reading several short passages from his book ‘Just a Man Called Phonse – The Anything but Ordinary Life of A.V. (Phonse) Tobin’.


Image Des Tobin
Des is the second son of Phonse and Vera Tobin.  He was born in 1938 and commenced work at Tobin Brothers Funerals in 1961.  He was CEO from 1983 to 1998 and Chair from 1988 to 2002.  Des and his wife Margaret have four adult childen and 11 grandchildren. They live in Melbourne.

Des has crammed more lives into his 80 years than your average cat.  He has variously being a failed student, a discontented panel beater apprentice, a youth worker, a springboard diver, a junior pole-vaulter, a VFL and Olympic Australian Rules footballer, a business executive in the funeral industry, a golfing tragic, a university lecturer and a prolific writer.

Des Tobin’s other works include: In the Midst of Life – The Australian response to death (with Graemen M. Griffin); Simply Toogood – Peter Toogood’s Life in Golf; Frank Costa – Family, Faith and Footy; Michael Tricarico – The Journey not the Destination; and Alan and Joy Johnstone – A story of Loyalty and Love.


An Australian Heritage Festival event, jointly presented with the Stonnington History Centre.

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Thursday 9 May
7:00 pm - 8:00 pm
Gold Coin Donation
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Prahran Mechanics’ Institute Victorian History Library
Stonnington History Centre


PMI Victorian History Library
39 St. Edmonds Road
Prahran, Victoria 3181
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9510 3393


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