Bernie Tobin

Written on the 16 April 2018 by Old Collegians Association

Bernie Tobin Retires

Excerpt from 2002 Rostrevor Magazine

Br Bernie Tobin from the 1966 Annual

The end of Term Three (2002) marked the completion of twenty-five years' service to Rostrevor College by Mr. Bernie Tobin. His retirement concluded a career that had spanned 5 decades of association with Rostrevor College and consequently a relationship with two generations of Rostrevor boys and an intimate knowledge of the history of Rostrevor from the 60s through to 2002.

Bernie was born in Rochester, Victoria to Noel and Annie Tobin. His father was a teacher and it is also from him that he developed his Jove for Gilbert and Sullivan which was to be a significant part of his contributions to Rostrevor in the 60s. Bernie is one of 5 brothers and 3 sisters raised by Noel and Annie and they entrusted his education to the Christian Brothers in Ballarat, firstly at Drummond St and then St Patrick's.

From the 1974 Annual: Captain B Tobin and Major A Whittington

In 1952 at the age of 14 he answered a vocational call and went to the Christian Brothers Juniorate at Box Hill and then to Strathfield in Sydney. In 1955 he began training in the novitiate alongside fellow future Rostrevor identities Brothers Danny Sexton and Brian Clery. At the age of 19 he began his teaching career at St Ambrose's in Brunswick, Melbourne teaching Year 3s and 4s and in 1959 he moved to Leaderville in Perth teaching Years 6,7 and 8.

His first appointment to Rostrevor came in 1962 as Junior Dorm Master, Under 13 football and cricket coach and teacher of a First-Year class which in those days involved the teaching of nearly all subjects including Latin. He inherited the tradition of Rostrevor musicals from Bros Bill Greening and then Mark McCabe and produced and directed several highly acclaimed Gilbert and Sullivan light operas. The 1965 Annual reported that " To his work he brought boyish enthusiasm that was infectious. He was musical to his finger-tips and his work in Gilbert and Sullivan was truly to him a labour of love. Kindly by nature he was truly a friend of every boy in the class.

Bill Atyeo, Jack Bailey and John Ahern are a few of the many boys who were involved in his musicals and students the calibre of Jim Ramsay, Tony Mitchell, John Ordon, Wally Hearn, Peter Marker, Louis Flint and James McNamara also came under his care.

In 1966 he moved to Trinity College in Perth where Br John Carrig was Head (a Deputy at Rostrevor in the mid-70s} and he commenced an Arts Degree which he completed over 6 years while teaching full time. Others on the staff at Trinity at that time were Br Pat Cronin, current CBC Wakefield St Head and Br Michael Coughlin, old scholar and ex-staff member. In 1972 he went to Geraldton for a year and then returned to Rostrevor for a period of 4 years.During this stint he was Senior Dorm Master and taught senior classes in Geography and Ancient History. 

The 1977 Annual reported, " His ability to fit in with everyone, his cheerful good humour and his inability to say 'no· meant that during this period at Rostrevor he took on a wide diversity of jobs. In all his contact with the Senior classes his genuine understanding and concern for the boys made him popular with them."

In 1977 Bernie left the Brothers and spent 6 months working for Catholic education under John McDonald as Director. The following year he accepted an appointment at Sienna College and in 1983 he moved to St Ignatius College before returning to Rostrevor as a Geography teacher and then Head of Geography in 1985. 

His marriage to Janette added another dimension to his connections with Rostrevor as her twin sons Stephen and Michael Harby ('78) have been wonderful contributors to Rostrevor as students and then with their involvement in the Old Collegians' Football Club. Stephen's recent association produced a Premiership for the B Grade as coach in 2000.

Mr Bernie Tobin is piped out of the College by teacher Mr Phil Griffiths

His final 18 years at Rostrevor have seen enormous changes in the size of the school and the physical resources. Throughout this time Bernie has maintained an effectiveness and a focus which has endeared him to both staff and students. He has been a very supportive colleague and teacher and the ill-health he has experienced over recent years (chronic larynx and pancreas problems} has not dampened his enthusiasm or his willingness to contribute to the betterment of Rostrevor.

With so many years or association with Rostrevor it was difficult for Bernie to isolate special memories when asked. What was evident was the overwhelming affection he has had for the College and all the boys in his care. His Involvement in and then organisation of the annual expeditions to the centre of Australia during the 70s was typical of his commitment to offering special experiences to Rostrevor boys. Many of these expeditions were captured on film and on one excursion Bernie can be seen playing the bagpipes at the summit of Mt. Woodroofe in the Musgrave Ranges.


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Author:Old Collegians Association


Glen Stuart Rd Woodforde Sa 5072 Australia


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