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Holyrood businessman’s full life well remembered

By Yvonne Fontaine | April 29, 2021

Kevin Tobin, a long time Holyrood businessman, passed away on April 1.

Born in the small community of Point La Haye, St. Mary’s Bay, Tobin was not immune to the toil of hard work. The fruits of his labour defined him as the entrepreneur he would eventually become. As a young man and underaged by industry standards, he headed to Goose Bay and was hired as a bus driver. He returned home to work with Joe Moore and James Hickey while living in Holyrood where he courted and married Dorothy Crawley. Together they had five children. In the late 1960s Tobin returned to Labrador and worked on the Churchill Falls project driving a bus and honing his skills as a mechanic with Northern Construction.

Following his time down North, Kevin secured a job with the provincial government in the Department of Forestry and Agriculture as a heavy equipment mechanic and was later promoted to manager – a position he held until his retirement some 10 years later. Undaunted by the long work week, Tobin aspired to do more.

His keen eye for business was sparked in the early 70’s when he and wife Dorothy saw an opportunity to lease a convenience store in Holyrood, all the while working a full-time job and raising a family. It was here at ‘Jack Dunphy’s’ where they fostered friendships that would last a lifetime. Many a commuter enjoyed their famous ice cream sandwiches on the way to the cabin in Deer Park. Long before it was legal to sell beer on Sundays, many a fellow sought refuge in the back room of the store where Tobin was known to offer a medicinal libation to those suffering the ill effects of the night before. They always prided themselves on the fact they never turned anyone away. It was not uncommon for them to open the shop after hours if someone was in need.

Never one to miss an opportunity, in Tobin Kevin bought a boat, a truck and built rigs to invest in the local squid fishery. Some years later he formed a company and secured the contract to collect residential and commercial garbage in the town of Holyrood.

In 1979, with his sights on additional business opportunities, Tobin constructed a building and operated Holyrood Automotive and Hardware. He sold auto parts, tires, fishing gear, and anything else the market demanded. The back of the store housed a Sears Catalogue outlet. After closing the business, he leased the building to the Department of Justice for the district courthouse and later to the Department of Social Services.

In 1982 with wife Dorothy, Tobin started Tobin’s Taxi, servicing communities in and around the Conception Bay Centre region. Dorothy drove during the days and Kevin assumed the evening and weekend shifts. Tobin’s Taxi remains in operation today as a family business.

Though he lived a full life, Tobin always lamented “missed opportunities.” His thirst for new adventures and a drive to prosper always remained with him.  When the oil boom struck, he commented “if only I had been born 20 years later.”

Even in retirement, Tobin was never one to sit still.  At the age of 68, he set the stage for what was to become his golden years. Having wintered in Florida for 17 years, he forged a family and a network of friendships that would be the subject of many stories to come in the summers spent at home in Holyrood. In the park he was the go-to guy when others needed a hand around their homes, and it was this aptitude that earned him the moniker “young fella” in the senior’s park. To satisfy that entrepreneurial spirit, it was not uncommon for him to buy and sell a scattered boat, Cadillac or a mobile home. At one point he bought a set of pontoons and built a boat which he named ‘Newfie Pride,’ a pleasure craft that himself, his partner and friends enjoyed in Lake Placid for many years.

Declining health forced Kevin to relinquish his days in the sunny south and he opted instead to reside full time alongside family in Holyrood. At the age of 86 and in the presence of his family, Kevin Tobin finally decided it was time to rest. He had a full life and will always be remembered. 

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