Local couple dies in plane crash


The two took plane trips cross-country regularly.

By Jonathan Friedman/Staff Writer

Malibu residents Paul and Paula “Polly” Tobias were killed on March 16 when a plane flown by Paul Tobias crashed into a home in Mar Vista. The couple had been returning from a skiing trip at Mammoth Mountains in the Sierra Nevada. According to the Los Angeles Times, Tobias had attempted to land his plane in foggy weather. Paul Tobias was 71 and Paula was 60.

The Tobiases had lived in Malibu for many years near the Getty Museum on Pacific Coast Highway. Paul Tobias became interested in flying about 15 years ago while on a trip piloted by his best friend, Rick Ray.

“I was flying on a trip with them to Northern South America, and he said, ‘Hey I could do this,'” Ray said in a telephone interview Monday.

The Tobiases were members of Air Ventures, an organization of Southern California pilots out of the Van Nuys Airport. The couple flew to Alaska and made several cross-country flights. When they weren’t flying their own plane, they were traveling to countries throughout the world. Oftentimes they would go with Ray.

“We’ve been to so many places together, I can’t even recall all of them,” Ray said.

Paul Tobias was a psychologist, with several of his clients being Hollywood celebrities. He also worked with teens who struggled with drug addictions. Bruce Gordon, a psychologist who shared an office suite with Tobias, said Tobias had a national reputation in that field. Tobias worked with addiction programs and consulted many of them throughout the country.

Paula Tobias was a sculptor who worked for the past 15 years out of the Robert Cunningham Studio in Culver City. Tobias sold a number of her works to a cruise line. Her sculpting teacher, Robert Cunningham, said she was an incredible artist, who was able to succeed with any form she tried. “Paula was excellent,” he said. “She had very high standards. She devoted a tremendous amount of time to the craft.”

Paula Tobias dabbled in other art forms, including Japanese watercolors. She also crafted beaded blouses for a period of time.

The couple was also involved in philanthropy. They helped with an organization called Stop Cancer out of West Los Angeles. Paul Tobias assisted the organization with raising money. Gordon said the Tobiases usually worked as a team at everything they did, making many friends along the way.

“They had no children, no immediate family, but they had a large number of friends who were like family,” said Gordon, who added that the couple’s death has created a large void in many people’s lives.

Paul Tobias was an accomplished photographer and had an extensive collection of antique cameras. He and his wife went to camera conventions around the nation to find items to add to it. Ray said his friend, who he had known since his senior year in high school, had a large interest and knowledge of many topics.

“He was very intelligent, capable of talking about anything,” Ray said. “He had great insight on so many subjects.”

Ray said the thing he will most miss about the Tobiases is the many conversations he had with them on so many subjects. A memorial gathering took place on Sunday, and was attended by about 90 friends.