Paul Francis Tobin was born May 10, 1927, in Mitchell to Dr. Francis J. and Margaret Alice (Halligan) Tobin. He attended Holy Family Catholic School in Mitchell and completed high school at St. Thomas Academy in Mendota Heights, MN. He graduated in 1945.
Paul Tobin, whose 27-year career with the Federal Aviation Administration was followed by six years as mayor of Mitchell, SD has passed away.
Paul had a lifelong love of airplanes and flying. When he was about nine years old, his father took him and a brother to fly with a pilot who had a Ford TriMotor plane. Paul knew a lot about the early history of aviation in South Dakota and the pioneer barnstorming pilots like Clyde Ice. When he was younger, Paul owned a plane with three others.
He served in the US Army Air Corps (later the US Army Air Force) from 1944 to 1946 and again from 1951 to 1955. For a time at the end of World War II, he was part of the occupying force in Germany.
He married Shirley Wittkop on February 15, 1951, at Luverne, MN. They lived in Rapid City, Omaha and Sioux City before returning to Mitchell in 1975 when Paul retired. He had worked as an air traffic controller for the Federal Aviation Administration for 27 years.
In Mitchell, he served on the City Council from 1976 to 1980 and then was elected mayor of Mitchell from 1980 to 1986. He served on the board of the Mitchell Area Adjustment Training Center (later LifeQuest) and was a member of Holy Family Catholic Church.
Paul was the ultimate “Mr. Fix It” who could build or fix anything mechanical or structural. In Omaha, he built an addition to the family home from the footings up for his growing family. After he retired, his woodworking projects included baby doll rocker/rocking chairs for his grandchildren, and making furniture, quilt racks and more. He and Shirley could take the things other people discarded and make them new again. They worked together to make and paint wooden Christmas caroler ornaments for their children and they collaborated on building clocks, refinishing furniture, and countless other projects.
His love of aviation never waned. In later years, he attended the Experimental Aircraft Association fly-in and air show in Oshkosh. WI, where he talked about flying and aircraft with other pilots and aviation fans from around the country and world. In 2010, he was part of the South Dakota Honor Flight that took veterans to Washington, DC, to see the World War II Memorial.
He is survived by eight children: Mark (Paulette) Tobin, Grand Forks, ND, John (Becca) Tobin, Sioux Falls, Michael Tobin, Mitchell, Paula (Tom) Hunstad, Marshall, MN, Susan (Phil) Collins, Mitchell, Matthew (Betsy) Tobin, Fulton, SD, Daniel (Jill) Tobin, Hartford, SD and Steven Tobin, Harrisburg, SD; one daughter-in-law, Justine Tobin, Brandon SD; 17 grandchildren: Emily (Tyler) Tupa, Briana (Jason) Bales, Kyle Tobin, Heather (Brad) Bird, Micky (Mark) Ouellette, Pat (Tanya) Bueltel, Katie (Zach) Nebben, Andrew Hunstad, Peter Hunstad, Jacqson (Melissa) Collins, Ryan Collins, Josh (Heidi) Tobin, Courtney Tobin, Kelsey Tobin, Haley Tobin, Trevor Tobin and Tessa Tobin; and 13 great-grandchildren, Julia Tupa; Tyler, Brooklyn and Luke Bales, Blake, Shelbie, Cole and Brayton Ouellette, Carter and Kendal Bueltel, Natalie Nebben and Charleigh and Regan Collins.
In addition he is survived by one brother, Frank Tobin, Hermann, MO; three sisters: Dorothy Daugherty, Richfield, MN, Ruthann Lyons, Chicago, and Yvonne McCormack, Carlisle, Mass.; and many nieces and nephews.
He was preceded in death by his wife, Shirley, on March 12, 1999; three children, Elizabeth Bueltel, David Tobin and an infant daughter, Mary Priscilla; a son-in-law, James Bueltel; two sisters, Maureen Becker and Sheila Shea; and two brothers, Patrick Tobin and Brian Tobin.
In lieu of flowers, the family prefers memorials of Lifequest Foundation, Mitchell, SD.