About 400 people packed Saddleback Church on Thursday to say farewell to Anaheim Police Det. Jeffrey Tobin, who lost a yearlong battle with brain cancer on Oct. 7.
“A lover of learning, a perpetual student, a wordsmith. A born counselor, a natural teacher. A Gentleman’s Gentleman.”
“I’m a rich man,” Tobin told his wife, Lori Ann, as he battled the cancer. “I have you, my family and so many friends.”
After the cancer robbed him of his voice, Tobin – who never once complained – gave his wife and friends gleeful thumbs up.
Wearing her husband’s badge around her neck and fighting back tears, Lori Ann Tobin ended her eulogy by giving his friends and colleagues the “thumbs up” for the love they displayed.
Police work was one of dozens of Tobin’s passions. He completed two Iron Man triathlons. He won national awards as a competitive skydiver, completing 657 jumps. Before becoming a police officer at age 48, he was a lawyer, working as a prosecutor for 12 years in Anaheim’s City Attorney’s Office.
As a young man, Tobin worked as an artist. He worked with stained glass, composed music and spent two years performing pantomime. He was so good that he earned a college scholarship.
But law enforcement was his calling. He first worked for the Los Angeles Police Department and later as a reservist for the Costa Mesa Police Department.
When he decided to return to police work, he was the oldest recruit in the police academy. He graduated in the top 10 percent – outperforming decades-younger hopefuls in physical agility tests.
“He loved to challenge himself,” said Chaplain Jimmie Gaston.
Tobin was an internationally regarded drug recognition expert, and he founded the police department’s computer forensics team. He spent his final two years with the department as a computer financial crimes detective and was Anaheim’s 2011-2012 “Officer of the Year.”
“He was the kind of police officer every chief would love to have,” said Deputy Chief Julian Harvey. “What other person do you know of who took the career path that Jeff took to serve others?”
Officer Eric Degn spent many hours at the gym and shooting range with Tobin after the cancer diagnosis, soaking up wisdom and admiring his toughness.
“Despite having brain cancer and limited use of the right side of his body, he was still a better shot than I was and probably a better athlete, too,” he said.
Degn, Lt. Tim Miller and Sgt. Matt Ziemba used words like courageous, honest, respectful, intelligent and tenacious to describe him.
In fact, said Assistant City Attorney Mark Logan, it was his tenacity that earned him the nickname “Tobinator.”
Harvey “described him as one in a million,” Logan said. “I think that’s an apt description.”