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Laurier remembers Rev. Dr. Larry Toombs
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Rev. Dr. Larry Toombs, a former professor at Wilfrid Laurier University, died on December 14 in Kitchener, Ontario. He was 88 years old.
Toombs spent 16 years as a faculty member in Laurier’s Department of Religion and Culture, earning the WLU Outstanding Teacher Award in 1980. He retired in 1984 with the distinction of professor emeritus.
Remembered as a passionate scholar who influenced generations of students, Toombs was also an avid archeologist who contributed to the field through teaching and fieldwork for 40 years.
Friend and colleague Dr. Harold Remus recalls Toombs describing himself as “a simple man.”
“Larry was anything but simple,” says Remus, a professor emeritus of the Department of Religion and Culture at Laurier. “Not only was he on top of what was going on in his field, he was well- and widely-read in literature, and in general, a sage observer of the passing scene. It was a privilege to serve in the same department with someone like Larry who justly merited the designation ‘gentleman and scholar.’”
Born in Charlottetown, Prince Edward Island, Toombs received his BSc from Acadia University in Wolfville, Nova Scotia, and then studied chemistry at the University of Toronto. After serving as a meteorologist for the Royal Canadian Air Force during the Second World War, he attended Pine Hill Divinity Hall in Halifax where he received a Bachelor of Divinity. After being ordained by the Maritime Conference of the United Church of Canada, he went on to earn a PhD in Old Testament studies at Drew University in Madison, New Jersey.
Toombs remained in Madison for several years, working as a professor of Old Testament Studies at Drew University, and fulfilling pastoral duties at several local churches.
It was during this time that he developed an interest in archeology, which led to further studies at the American School of Oriental Research and the Institute of Archeology in London. Over the years he participated in several Near Eastern excavations, including sites at Jericho, Shechem, Tell el-Hesi and Caesarea Maritima.
In recognition of his achievements, Laurier established the Lawrence E. Toombs Bursary for honours archeology students and the Larry Toombs Award.
Rev. Dr. Toombs is survived by his wife of 33 years Frances Carolyn, children Millicent and Edmund, and several stepchildren and grandchildren.