Dr. Lawrence Edmund Toombs, 1919-2007
Larry was born on April 1, 1919 in Charlottetown, Prince Edward Island, and though he left it as a young man, "The Island" always held a strong place in his heart. He attended Prince of Wales College in Charlottetown. After graduating with a BA and BSc from Acadia University in Wolfville, Nova Scotia, he entered graduate studies in Chemistry at the University of Toronto. In 1943 he returned to Charlottetown and served as a meteorologist attached to the Royal Canadian Air Force during the Second World War. He received a BD from Pine Hill Divinity Hall in Halifax in 1948 prior to his ordination by the Maritime Conference of the United Church of Canada. He then earned a PhD in Old Testament studies at Drew University in Madison, New Jersey. He remained at Drew, joining the faculty of the Theological School and eventually becoming Professor of Old Testament studies. As an ordained minister, he fulfilled pastoral duties at Madison Methodist Church among others.
He returned to his native Canada in 1968 to teach at Union College in Vancouver, before joining the faculty of Religion and Culture at Wilfrid Laurier University (WLU) in Waterloo, Ontario in 1969. He was named Professor Emeritus upon his retirement from WLU in 1984.
While at Drew, Larry nurtured an interest in archaeology, which was to become the great passion of his career. After studying the discipline at the American Schools of Oriental Research (ASOR) in Jerusalem and the Institute of Archaeology in London, he practiced and taught archaeology with distinction for 40 years. He participated in Near Eastern excavations at Jericho, Shechem, Tell el-Hesi and Caesarea Maritima, where his colleagues and students knew him as the "master stratigrapher", or "El Hakam" ("the wise one"). The ASOR awarded Larry the P. E. MacAllister Field Archaeology Award in 1998 in recognition of his career as a teacher and his contributions to the field of Palestinian archaeology.
A remarkable teacher, possessed of wisdom, patience and the ability to instruct and entertain at the same time, Larry influenced generations of students in theology, archaeology and Biblical studies. He was awarded the WLU Outstanding Teacher Award of 1980. WLU has established a Bursary in Honours Archaeology and the Larry Toombs Award in his name.
He was predeceased by his parents Edmund and Elizabeth, seven elder brothers and sisters, and stepson John Hicks.
He is survived by his wife of 33 years, Frances Carolyn (nee Wilson), and former wife Carol Ellison (nee West) of Mississauga, mother of his daughter Millicent, his son Edmund and Edmund's wife Alicia. He was a loving stepfather to Angela and her husband Barry Josslin, Christy and her husband Corby Nicol, John's wife Pamela, and Kellie and her husband Terry Bauman. Several grandchildren fondly remember "Tschomis", as do many great-grandchildren.
At Larry's request there will be no visitation or funeral service. Cremation has taken place and a private family memorial service will be held at a later date. As`an expression of sympathy, donations to the Canadian Cancer Society or St. Mary's General Hospital Foundation would be appreciated by the family. Cards are available at the Henry Walser Funeral Home (519-749-8467), to which arrangements have been entrusted.