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Rebecca Tobias, Social Worker and Ceramic Artist, Dies at Age 67

April 29, 2010
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Rebecca Tobias, 67, a social worker and ceramic artist, died March 31 at the Hospice of Philadelphia.

Tobias completed a 40-plus-year career in social work in March of 2008 when she retired as director of social work at the LIFE (Living Independently for Elders) program at the University of Pennsylvania. From a startup with a handful of participants, she built a complete social-work department for more than 300 elders.

Starting from a belief that access to social benefits are a right and not a privilege, Tobias was a fierce advocate for her clients. Her career included work at Albert Einstein Medical Center from 1992 to 1999. There, she created several programs and systems to provide specialized social services to geriatric patients. She also lectured, trained and conducted workshops for professionals, volunteers and the public.

At the Fox Chase Cancer Center, Tobias provided leadership in ensuring home-care social-work documentation, as well as developed support groups for staff and patients.

Other professional experiences included social services to dialysis patients in Louisville, Ky.; child-welfare work in San Francisco during the early 1970s; and volunteer program development at the Jewish Federation in Oakland, Calif.

A ceramic artist, she showed her work in numerous exhibitions, winning several awards. In 1990, and again in 1992, she was a leading member of the organizing committee of "Art at the Armory," self-billed as a "salon des refusés," which showed art work of hundreds of artists who had not been selected for the "Art Now" exhibit of the Philadelphia Museum of Art.

Born in New York City, Tobias moved to Kansas City, Mo., at age 4. She graduated from Southwest High School there in 1961. She attended Antioch College and Wayne State University, earning a master's of social work degree in 1968.

Tobias is survived by her husband, Stephen Tobias; sons Jacob Tobias and Zachary Tobias; and a sister, Susan Lawrence.

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