Last Updated on July 16, 2008 by Paulette Brown-Hinds
It’s Sunday afternoon. I’ve put on a Patti Labelle CD and I’ve sat down to write about this celebration of life well lived. Many thoughts dance, circle and fade through my mind, the ones that linger come from the heart. I proceeded to remember, the lessons I learned as a wide-eyed intern on several of Patricia L. Tobin’s, (known to many as “Pat”) special events in Hollywood. Her struggle as a brilliant PR professional was a difficult one, but over a span of twenty years in business, Tobin built her firm into one of the most respected African American agencies in Los Angeles.
Her expertise was strategic planning, product positioning and community relations outreach with national corporations and organizations. Because of the struggle, she once told me, “A PR professional should never miss an opportunity to jump in the shot, when appropriate. It sends a signal that we exist and are alive.”
Tobin’s memorial was held on Friday, June 27, 2008 in Inglewood at the Faithful Central Bible Church. On Tuesday, June 10, she had lost her valiant fight with colon cancer. She was 65. The service started on time. 10:00 A.M. sharp! Time was important because Tobin was an on-time person. Colored people time-CP time was not going to reflect a life well lived, or a woman well loved-not this time.
Hundreds came from all over the country to pay their respects to this pioneering publicist and networking master. A long list of dignitaries, celebrities, family and friends felt the power of her definition of networking and public relations. At her memorial service, she brought us together her way. There were very few tears as the program started and concluded two hours later, featuring a lengthy line of impressive speakers and musical selections of Tobin’s favorite songs. Speakers such as John Mack, former Urban League President and Los Angeles Police Commission president, Mark Ridley-Thomas, California State Senator, Irving Miller, Group Vice President, Toyota Motor Sales USA and Judge Mablean Ephriam, and so many more-too many to mention-telling their stories of a life well lived. Quite remarkable to say the least.
After Bishop Kenneth Ulmer’s final remarks and words of inspiration, Tobin’s daughter Lauren and grandson Aaron, the loves of her life, took center stage. Each shared moments about the dream builder Tobin was. Lauren said, “I hope all of you brought your business cards because this is a networking celebration, the way my mother wanted it to be.” Lauren had that exactly right…it was a networking celebration. I ran into individuals that I had not seen in years and everyone seemed to feel that way from Blair Underwood to Frankie Beverly of Maze. Then there was the Repast.
Pat used to hold a “Journalist Jams” at the Speakeasy Club during the 1980’s for media and PR professionals. Her repast, hosted by the Black Journalist Association of Southern California, gave reminiscence to those jams. All I can say is wow! Unbelievable! In a poem written by Michael Colyar, he stated, “Say what you wanna but nobody cries. Feel her joy, feel her power. She knows she’s the woman of the hour.” Every second and minute of the repast had Tobin’s way of life all over it. From the black-eyed peas to the collard greens, macaroni and cheese, to the peach cobbler pie had Tobin’s signature on it.
Then there was the music. Old school tunes, even featuring the Soul Train theme song, which was a Tobin favorite. Can you imagine what excitement occurred when everyone heard the old Soul Train tune? There was a dance floor and in honor of Tobin’s favorite dance the “electric slide” everyone raced to the floor in her memory. Dignitaries, celebrities, you name it, people together, at peace celebrating the memory of a friend dearly loved. There was plenty of champagne and networking. A special pen was designed which stated “FOPT” for Friend of Pat Tobin. The pen has a rhinestone in the middle of the O. Everyone was encouraged to wear his or her pen to special events, and to remember as stated in the National Black Public Relation Society’s resolution (an organization that Tobin helped to form). We resolve to honor her example of networking, mentoring and promoting African Americans in the field of PR in her memory so that the legacy of Pat Tobin will live on.