We learned the sad news yesterday that longtime former-Assistant District Attorney and Division Chief Andy Tobias passed away.
For most people who worked at the District Attorney's Office within the past ten to twenty years, we all knew Andy as the head of the Grand Jury Division. However, Andy's career with the Harris County District Attorney's Office spanned over thirty years and there was nobody in that Office that I can remember (before or since) that better exemplified the love of the job.
Andy bridged the gap between the "Old Dog" prosecutors (and their stories of the 1960s, 1970s, and 1980s) and those of us who were fascinated by the legends that came before us. He never seemed to tire of walking around the Grand Jury afternoon telling us war stories about things that happened both in and out of the courtroom. He loved talking about prosecuting the Max Soffar case back in the 1980s. He truly was a walking history book when it came to the Office.
In his role as the Grand Jury Division Chief, Andy also supervised the Grand Jury interns who came to work for the Office from the surrounding law schools. Getting a spot working there was a coveted position in law school and it seemed like everyone who interned for Andy ended up in criminal law -- many as prosecutors, but others as defense attorneys. There was an enthusiasm for criminal law that he exuded. In the later years of his career, he supervised many of us that literally had not been born when he first became a prosecutor.
But the biggest thing that Andy represented in my mind was how much the Harris County District Attorney's Office was a family. In addition to be a great job and a calling to strive to do the right thing, the people that we worked with were so much more to each other than any other workplace environment. No body exhibited that more than Andy Tobias.
He kept working at the District Attorney's Office long past the point of being eligible to retire. He proudly pointed out that he was losing money by staying at the Office rather than taking his retirement. We calculated it out once and realized that was true. He was actually losing a significant amount of money by not retiring. He also liked to point out that he had suffered a major heart attack years earlier and even "died on the table", but couldn't wait to get back to work as soon as possible.
I don't know that anybody loved his job and the people that he worked with as much as Andy Tobias. To me, he represented a bridge of history from a long-gone era, and working with him made me feel like a part of the Office's history.
My deepest sympathy goes out to his family. I will keep you posted when funeral plans are announced.