It is with great sadness that the family of William C. Tobin, Jr. announces his passing after a three-month illness, on Friday, August 2, 2019, at the age of 76 years. Bill passed away in his home on Vashon Island surrounded by loved ones.
Born in Seattle on June 21, 1943, to William and Margaret Tobin, Bill leaves behind wife Susan Tobin, son Daniel Enoch Tobin, sister Teresa Lingafelter, brother Robert Tobin, a niece, nephew and cousins.
Bill was predeceased by his father, William C. Tobin, mother Margaret Tobin and son Christopher Tobin.
Raised in West Seattle, he attended West Seattle High School, Whitman College in Walla Walla, the University of Washington and Willamette Law School. After law school, he worked in Venezuela in the Peace Corps, then volunteered as a poll watcher in 1968 Civil Rights-era Mississippi with the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights under Law. In 1998, Bill received the E.B. MacNaughton Civil Liberties Award for this work.
He moved to Vashon in 1971 and had a law practice here for more than two decades. He was active in the Community Council for many years, as a board member and, twice, as president. In the early ’90s, he spearheaded a movement to preserve Vashon’s rural/agricultural character. He organized a series of meetings and workshops that eventually became the Land Trust, the Forest Stewards and the Vashon Island Growers Association (VIGA), of which he was president for several years. He was instrumental in organizing the purchase of the Saturday Market property for the Growers Association.
Bill was never afraid to stand up for justice against a powerful adversary. When Islanders became aware of the extent of pollution coming from the ASARCO Smelter in Ruston, Bill sued ASARCO on behalf of Vashon clients Mike and Marie Bradley. The court ruled that ASARCO’s emissions constituted trespass, changing legal precedents. Within a few years, the smelter was closed and cleanup had begun.
In 1991 Bill began work for the Nisqually Indian Tribe, where he worked to protect the Tribe’s fishing rights and natural resources until his retirement in 2015.
On Dec. 10, 2004, Bill represented deceased Nisqually Chief Leschi before the Historical Court of Inquiry and Justice in their review of Leschi’s 146-year-old murder conviction. The Court cleared Leschi of the murder charges, bringing a rousing cheer of joy to the courtroom.
Bill was a shining light. treating everyone he encountered with respect and kindness. He will be greatly missed by his family and loved ones, as well as all in the community who knew him.