40 years ago

John Patrick Tobin was a common and uncommon man, a good man. Like us, he hoped his virtues outweighed his faults. Like us, he had his contradictions and consistencies. He was both soft-spoken and stern. As police chief here his job was to command and enforce, and he did it well and consistently from 1966 to 1969. A quiet man of humble traits, he may have been miscast by some who felt a “bulldog” approach to the job was the way to go. They were proved wrong.

On a Friday evening in May 1969, the 48-year-old Tobin was stricken with a heart attack while reading a newspaper in his living room in the 800 block of Thomas Avenue. He was found slumped over in his chair, dead, by his sister, Dorothy Julius, who was visiting him.

Tobin’s life was ordinary yet singular. During the depression, he attended a Catholic seminary to prepare for the priesthood, only to drop out after the death of his father. He joined the army during WWII, and upon mustering out qualified to serve on the police force here in 1946. After his first few years, Tobin found himself assigned to many cases involving teenagers. He helped rehabilitate scores of boys and young men as the juvenile officer of the force. His services soon were in constant demand of other police departments.

Tobin ascended the ranks while earning the respect of his fellow officers. Soon after becoming a lieutenant, he was chosen as the new police chief, following the death of his predecessor, Chief Elmer Schnurstein. In Tobin’s obituary these words stand out: “He led an exemplary life.”

From the May 21, 1969, Forest Park Review

30 years ago

We haven’t dipped into an Editor Bob Haeger “Once Over Lightly” column in a while. So get your dippers ready. “The swearing in of Mayor Fred Marunde and some commissioners was more like a love-in than a swearing-in,” wrote Haeger, “Words like ‘loyal, devoted’ and ‘conscientious’ filled the air as former adversaries embraced. But don’t expect niceness and uniformity the next four years,” Haeger said. “You wouldn’t want that. We’ll be more than blessed if the newly elected can see their colleagues in the same light that they want to be seen in.”

From the May 9, 1979, Forest Park Review

20 years ago

Whoever she was, the 18 year old was desperate and confused enough to make the 911 call. Officer Richard Boyce heard her sobbing, and saying she was going to commit suicide. He sped over to 7456 Washington and looked up to see the distraught woman gripping her fourth-floor balcony rail with one hand, the other being held onto by a girlfriend whose hold was loosening. Boyce raced up the stairwell and, kicking down the locked apartment door, reached the suicide-bent woman just as her friend was about to let go. He broke the young woman’s hold on the railing and pulled her away.

After the ordeal, two words were noted in the officer’s report: “Family problems.” Easy to enter in a report sheet. Not easy to take prompt action and prevent such a close call. A policeman’s lot is not a predictable one.

From the July 7, 1989, Forest Park Review

10 years ago

Copycat crimes usually follow sooner, yet this would fit the pattern. Seventeen years after the Tylenol killings took place in 1982 in Chicagoland, and seven innocent lives were snuffed out in dastardly fashion. Someone, somewhere, had opened an unknown number of Tylenol bottles and diabolically resealed and replaced the drug on the shelves.

So when a 60-year-old Chicago man was caught stealing 12 bottles of the product from the Osco store at Circle near Harlem, attention was paid. When accosted by store security the offender ditched the medicine and took off running. Arrested, he kicked and spat, claiming he had no money, and committed the theft because he had AIDS.

From the March 31, 1999, Forest Park Review