Obituary: Frank Tobias
Kyabram resident William Frank Tobias, commonly known as Frank, has been remembered as a dedicated and loving husband, father and grandfather, with a great sense of humour and the ability to help anyone regardless of who they were.
His generosity and contributions to the community will be well remembered, as will his passion for all things cars, engines and mechanics.
Frank, who was 95, passed away peacefully in Kyabram on December 26, 2021.
He was a husband of more than 65 years to Enid and a father to four boys: Glen, Haydn, Bryce and Ross.
Frank was born on November 27, 1926, in Manangatang, a remote town in northern Victoria, to parents Francis and Edith. He was the fifth of seven children.
Due to the nature of his father’s position as a stationmaster, the family moved towns often, with stints in Balmoral, Rochester and, in 1941, Kyabram.
Completing school in Year 9 at Echuca Technical College, Frank began work the following year in 1942 at 15 years old.
He worked as an apprentice motor mechanic at McQueen’s Central Garage, and his first car was a T Model Ford ute, which began a lifelong passion for all things cars and machines.
Frank’s son Bryce Tobias spoke of the beginning of his father’s career coinciding with war-time.
“Mechanics were in a protected industry; he would work all day then work for two hours after for the war efforts — unpaid — each night,” he said.
Following McQueen’s, in 1943 Frank was offered a position at East End Garage by Bill Thomson.
In 1953, Frank met “the girl next door”, Enid Hacon.
Originally from Tongala, Enid was boarding at her aunt’s home in Kyabram while working at a branch of Commercial Banking Company of Sydney Ltd.
In October 27, 1956, Frank and Enid were wed; in October 2021 they celebrated their 65th wedding anniversary.
Following their marriage, Frank and Enid moved into their Kyabram home; Frank lived there until his passing, while Enid, 87, currently resides at Sheridan Aged Care in Kyabram.
“Their love was so strong, not once growing up did I ever hear either of them raise their voice at one another,” Bryce said.
With a stint in Melbourne then Albury working for Repco, Frank found his way back to East End Garage in Kyabram after being made an offer he couldn’t refuse.
Having worked at the establishment for 19 years, in 1962 Frank and Enid had the opportunity to purchase the premises at 292 Allan St, Kyabram, which became what many Kyabram locals know them for, Tobias Motors.
Together Enid and Frank ran the shop for 32 years, with their son Haydn managing the office for more than five years from 1982, while from 1984 their son Ross became an apprentice for five years.
Bryce recalls Ross’s apprenticeship firing something up within Frank, which began his love for collecting.
Frank’s shed had become a sanctuary for his findings, holding many moments in history collected over the span of about 50 years.
What Bryce refers to as ‘a museum’, the shed is covered in display cabinets and shelves specially made by Frank.
Thousands of spark plugs, hundreds of keys, stationary engines, and just about anything automotive can still be found in his shed.
“He would show anyone who would be interested his shed, he just loved it. Car clubs would come from a long way just to come see his collection of stuff,” Bryce said.
Frank was a devoted member of many clubs. He was a Freemason, a part of the Kyabram Masonic Lodge, Vintage Drivers’ Club Goulburn, Kyabram Vintage Engine and Machine Restoration Group, the Dodge Brothers Club Australasia, the Rover P4 Drivers’ Guild, Spark Plug Collectors of America, the local Scouts and made huge contributions as part of Kyabram Historical Society.
Among his many good-doings, Frank is known for purchasing Willie Gee’s 1927 Capitol Chevrolet Van from Kyabram Historical Society for $50, in return for the chance to restore it and home it in the region.
“When he retired, he said to me: ‘I don’t know how I had time to work.’ Up until about six months ago he was still working on motors and collecting things,” Bryce said.
Frank’s passion for cars resulted in many restorations across the years but his pride and joy was always the 1925 Dodge Tourer which he attained in 1967 for $100.
Bryce said the family would take many trips in the Dodge, adding hours to a normal driving time as the car’s top speed was just 36 mph (58km/h).
“That Chev took about 27 years but the Dodge, he stripped completely and had it done in about nine months,” Bryce said.
“It was a hard car to drive; Mum struggled so much driving it, but it was his favourite car.”
Bryce remembers his father as a man with a vibrant sense of humour who always had to be doing something.
“He was always on the go, you wouldn’t catch him sitting still,” he said.
“He would walk kilometres around the dog park each day, replacing the bags and feeding the dogs, he did that up until about a week before he died.
“After he retired, he never stopped pottering around in the shed.”
Bryce remembers Frank as being a passionate father, husband and grandfather, who contributed greatly to his community and had time for everyone.
“It wouldn’t matter who it was for, it just wouldn’t matter; if people would bring car stuff around or needed something done, he would drop everything to do it,” he said.
“He just really loved it.”
Frank’s funeral was held at Kyabram Uniting Church on Saturday, January 1, followed by interment at Kyabram Lawn Cemetery.