Aubrey C. "Bill" Tobey

  • Born: September 17, 1925
  • Died: March 1, 2021
  • Location: West Newbury, Massachusetts

Robinson Funeral Home

809 Main Street
Melrose, MA 02176
Tel. (781) 665-1900

Tribute & Message From The Family

Aubrey C. Tobey, affectionately known by many as Bill, died at his home on March 1, 2021. He was born in Hialeah, FL on September 17, 1925 to Aubrey and Rose Tobey. Raised in New York State, he graduated from Albany High School in 1943 and entered the Navy's Officer Training School at RPI and then Tufts University where he met the love of his life, Cynthia Wilkshire. After they both received their bachelor degrees, his in mechanical engineering, they married in 1949. During the early years of their marriage, Bill was called back to serve as an officer in the Navy during the Korean War. He then received his MS in combustion engineering from University of Connecticut and eventually settled in Arlington, MA where Cynthia and he raised their four daughters. Dedicated to his sense of social responsibility, he was active locally in town and church affairs in areas of public education, conservation and civil rights.

Bill and Cynthia built a summer home in South Bristol, Maine where they enjoyed hosting family and friends. Many remember the unexpected adventures on his boat the Menigawum. After the passing of Cynthia in 1994, Bill assumed the roles of both grandparents to his beloved grandchildren. He shared his love of music by taking each to the Boston Symphony Orchestra annually. To all family members, friends and new acquaintances, Bill was known for his bear hugs, sincere interest in learning about others and his encouragement and assistance in helping them reach their goals.

Bill held various positions in research and teaching until he started his career in marketing at ADL. In 1965, he joined the David Mann Company and became a pioneer in the semiconductor industry. Colleagues and friends from around the world have shared with the family his contributions. As Director of Marketing for GCA, "his technical background provided a clear view of the problems faced by the industry and their likely solutions." After a long and successful career, Bill was honored with SEMI's Bob Graham Award in 2006 for conceptualizing the wafer stepper in the late 1970s, a great feat of product marketing.

Although he was instrumental in guiding GCA's technical developments, "his strongest suit was his ability to turn every potential customer into a life-long friend. Bill studied the different cultures of Japan, Korea and Taiwan, which he visited often. He was a good listener and always provided sound advice. Often, he brought his lovely, charming wife on his business trips, which was not the custom back then, and they were both welcomed into the homes and the lives of his international friends. Who knew that that was even a possibility at that time? Bill did. And he cemented an enduring friendship with the leaders of the semiconductor industry. Bill's friendships spanned the world, and as long as he was able, he bounced around the world, nurturing and encouraging everyone he encountered. He will be sorely missed by hundreds of his friends, but his example of a genuine interest in every life he touched, will continue to inspire us all. He was a terrific, unofficial Ambassador for America and our Semiconductor Industry."

Another colleague shared, "The world of semiconductors and the products they made possible would have been much smaller, … without Bill's contributions. His ability to see what others could not probably explains why he was able to continue making contributions into his nineties. Companies all over the world continued to call on him to his last days. He attended every SPIE Advanced Lithography Symposium in San Jose. And it is only fitting that he would pass the Monday after the first virtual SPIE. I guess God needed some advice."

Bill is survived by his dear sister, Grace Mayer of Menomonee Falls, WI; four daughters and their partners: Andrea and Bruce Jeffrey of Marblehead , MA, Susan and Peter Rahaim of Arlington, MA, Janet and Peter Brock of Barrington, RI, and Carolyn Tobey and Steve Gerritsen of W. Newbury, MA; eight grandchildren: Nathaniel Jeffrey, Diana Jeffrey, Elizabeth Rahaim, Jane Rahaim Iwanowicz, Amy Rahaim, Sarah Brock Bautista, Lucy Brock Ladouceur, Ellen Brock Kay and seven great grandchildren: Alex, Skyler, Jack, Laila, Emerson, Madeline and Oscar.

A Celebration of Life will be held when all may gather safely.

Bill was a champion of social justice and helping those in need. Donations may be made in his honor to the charity of your choice.

Condolence & Memory Journal

I first met Bill in 1968, and I last saw him in 2019. He never changed. He knew so much about so many subjects, and always had great stories to tell. He encouraged, advised, and assisted so many people, young and old! At ULowell's anniversary celebration of the moon landing, Bill and Griff Resor (see photo) joined me in talking about D. W. Mann Company's part in making possible the "Goodwill" silicon disc that was delivered to the moon 50 years earlier. He, at age 93, provided invaluable details to the story, just one example of his amazing generosity.

Posted by Jeanne M Roussel - Coworker   March 24, 2021

I am at a loss for words. Bill was a friend and mentor, always a source of inspiration and encouragement whether in person or on the phone. My condolences to his family. Thank you for sharing him with the rest of us. May his menory br eternal.

Posted by John Maltabes - Austin, TX - Friend   March 11, 2021

Condolences to Bill's family and friends. He was a mentor and valued consultant to me.

Posted by Craig Lazinsky - New Hampshire, NH - Friend   March 10, 2021

We are truly saddened by the passing of Bill. Bill was a mentor to both Michael and I over the past 25 years. He taught me how to do business in Japan and we enjoyed his company at our home many times. He was so sweet to our boys and such a caring man. Michael and Bill loved to eat oysters and drink wine at Legal Seafood (for hours!). Our thoughts and prayers to the family

Posted by Debbie and Michael Gustafson - WAKEFIELD, MA - Friend   March 10, 2021


Bill was a true legend in the SEMI industry and pioneer in everything he did. He was brilliant and always sharp as a whip and encouraged me over many decades of my career. His wisdom and experience cannot be replaced and I will miss his wonderful stories ,insights, wisdom,and of course that bear hug. His legacy will live through all those he touched including me. Bill lived life completely and fully and loved his family so much! Rest in peace!

-Meg Conkling, Industry Friend
Sacramento, CA
March 10, 2021

Posted by Meg Conkling - Sacramento, CA - Friend   March 10, 2021

Semicon West 2019.

Posted by Debbie Gustafson - wilmington, MA - Friend   March 10, 2021

My condolences to the Tobey family. I will sincerely miss Bill who was a wonderful man. I knew Bill for many years, going back to his Chartered days but I will miss most our long lunches at Legal Seafood in Burlington. They knew Bill well there and we were always given a window table. He was a great friend who could wax eloquently on everything from the early days of Litho to oysters and in between. God bless you, Bill.

Posted by Matthew Flynn - Lee, NH - Friend   March 10, 2021

My sincerest condolences on your loss

Posted by Roger Williams - New Canaan, CT - Family   March 09, 2021

Bill was one of the first people I met when I started coordinating SEMI programs. He was patient, kind and generous to a young woman with no engineering background tasked with managing committees comprised almost entirely of men. He would greet me with his deep, gravely voice and a big hug (which used to make me uncomfortable, but I will miss so much). Bill shared his love of semiconductors with so many. These past 12 months have taken so much from us. They cannot take away the fond memories of an industry icon. Thank you, Bill.

Posted by Margaret Kindling - Washington, DC - Coworker   March 08, 2021

My deepest sympathy to the Tobey family on the loss of our friend Bill. We spent so many hours with Bill and Cindy, both here and elsewhere and enjoyed them so much - it brings a smile to my face when I think of them.
My family also sends their best wishes to all of you. They saw more of Bill, but they recall Cindy too.
I think there are not too many "GCA" folks left. I am now 100 years old and Jim has been gone since 2006, but we did have fun.
Fondly, Lois Gallagher

Posted by Lois Gallagher - Clinton, MA - Friend   March 08, 2021

Fond recollection of interesting and enlightening conversations, fine cigars and ports.
I will miss you Bill - thanks for the memories.

Posted by Ted Schwahn - Sussex, WI - Family   March 08, 2021

I have known Bill for over 4 decades and our industry has lost a true icon!
Bill honored us in 1998 when he agreed to join the Rudolph Technologies Board of Directors. His guidance was highly-valued but more importantly his friendship was priceless.
Rest in peace my friend.
Paul McLaughlin friend Naples, FL

Posted by Paul McLaughlin - Naples, FL - Friend   March 08, 2021

What an outstanding giant has left our planet. Bill was more to me than a coworker, he was my mentor in my early days at GCA and he formed my professional career throughout the time within this company and beyond.
Whenever Bill met people throughout the world, he left them as a friend and so he ended up with many, many friends in all corners on earth.
Thank you Bill for all these wonderful hours we could spend together, every minute will be
burnt in my heart and sole forever. Rest in peace.

Posted by Otto Wild - Mühlhausen-Ehingen - friend   March 08, 2021

Among friends, even a humble meal will have the taste of delicious food and fine wine. Bill knew that well and used to say that the flavor of friendship would make everything delicious and that true companionship with thoughts and ideas freely flowing over a shared meal was one of the most enjoyable things life had to offer. How often can one say that a conversation with someone left oneself a better person? With Bill, that was the case every time.

Posted by Brigitte & Stefan Wurm - Albany, NY - Friend   March 07, 2021

Bill was a friend, a mentor and a fellow Jumbo. I will miss his guidance, lively conversations and bear hugs. The semi industry has lost a legend. Rest in peace Bill.

Posted by Mary Puma - Hampton Falls, NH - Friend   March 07, 2021

A great friend, a Titan of Technology, an outstanding Ambassador of the Semiconductor Industry with activities around the world has left us. I remember our first, joint travels to Japan, Asia end of the 80th to find partners for new technologies. He had customer - friends everywhere, they All trusted Him. I think the best you can achieve when customers become life long friends. We enjoyed great discussions, got his valuable advice, had good food (lobster), good times with laughter. I had hoped we jointly could celebrate 50 Years of Semi Tech in SFO in 2020, too many hurdles to take. Bill, we miss You in our get togethers, great memories for a life time. Henri H. Becker Wetzlar, Germany March 2021

Posted by Henri H. Becker - Wetzlar - Friend   March 07, 2021

Rest in peace, Bill. Your contributions will be felt for generations. You were truly unique. I will never forget your friendship and smile.

Posted by Andrew Hawryluk - Santa Clara, CA - Coworker   March 06, 2021

I'm proud to see that we both were Tufts grads. I can confirm: when I joined GCA Bill helped me in many ways. Of course I and my family became friends, of Cynthia as well. My wife Marì and myself enjoyed his company when he came to Rome.
He cuddled my son Marco, and at a later time his family warmly hosted my son Guido in Arlington and Maine. Guido's words: 'I felt at home with you all. I liked to see the photos of the children I played with back then in Maine... thank you so much to everyone!'

Posted by Lino, Marì, Guido, Marco and Paola Bernardini - Roma, Italy - Family Friend   March 06, 2021

As Bill's neighbor in Maine for 30 years, Beth and I always marveled at what an interesting, thoughtful and fun guy Bill was. His energy and intellectual curiosity was always a source of amazement to us. We'll miss seeing him walking down our driveway for one of summers dinners at Shaw's.

Posted by Beth and Tom Volpe - San Francisco, CA   March 05, 2021

Bill Tobey was a solid rock of a man: positive, steady, and also didn't mind a party now and then. He was a firm leading light of his church, First Parish Unitarian-Universalist in Arlington, a seaworthy sailor, and a close friend of my family. I am better because he lived. Rest in peace sir.

Posted by Michael Grady - FORT BRAGG, CA - Friend   March 05, 2021

How sorry I was to hear of the passing of Bill Tobey, Carolyn's father. He certainly made many contributions to his field as well as to the world at large. His daughter Carolyn, a dedicated and caring teacher and friend, is imbued with many of his same qualities - namely a concern for social justice, for inspiring education and a kindness for those in need.

Posted by Trish Faro - Melrose, MA - Family Friend   March 05, 2021

Those we hold closest to our hearts never truly leave us. They live on in the kindness they have shared and the love they brought into our lives.
My condolences

Posted by Carline Thervil - Lowell, MA - Significant Other   March 05, 2021

So many memories of this gentle giant, I sincerely call our friend. I can remember only 2-3 times in over 50 years, those being of somber times, Bill to be without laughter and hugs and goodwill. He inspired. He lead. He promoted positively. Friendship was his armor and it was always gleaming and well polished. He was blessed, we were blessed. He will never be forgotten in my lifetime. The pictures posted are wonderful to see! Thank you Tobey family. The pictures in my memories are lively, vivid treasures imprinted and signed with love.
With truest condolences to you.

Posted by Stephanie Grady - Bloomington, MN - Family Friend   March 05, 2021

I consider Bill to be an old friend beginning back in my GCA days until my most recent push to develop advanced Multiple Ebeam Direct Write technology which Bill helped guide me to make it a reality. Bill inspired me to do great things, to never give up. If I can live half the life Bill did for as long as he was able to I would feel my life was a success. I spent time with Bill at the last in-person SPIE Advanced Lithography last year where he advised me on next generation lithography. I will miss my mentor but most importantly I will miss my friend Bill.

Posted by Joseph Consolini - Costa Mesa, CA - Friend   March 04, 2021

Bill Tobey was a steadfast rock and driving force in the global Semiconductor Industry. The last time I saw him in person was summer 2019. And he took a red eye flight from SFO back to Boston.

Posted by LaMar Hill - Friend   March 04, 2021

My life is so much better for all the moments and conversations with, Bill. What an incredible man and fine example of resiliency and living a full life. My love to all.

Posted by Karen Koretsky - Gloucester, MA - Family Friend   March 04, 2021

Missing my hugs from Bill. My thoughts are with you all.

Jean Nagle

Posted by Jean Nagle - Bedford - Friend   March 04, 2021

Family Album

Family Album

Family Album

Family Album

Family Album

Community Photos

My life is so much better for all the moments and conversations with, Bill. What an incredible man and fine example of resiliency and living a full life. My love to all.
The annual conference in Hawaii was always the height of the social year for the US and Japan SEMI.
Bill paired up with Hasegawa-san from Nihon Micronics, as a Sumo wrestler.
SEMI’s International Trade Partners’ conference in Hawaii. Bill was always the life of the party!

Community Photos

Semicon West 2019.