Louise Tobin (1918-2022)
She was a grandchild of Civil War veteran and pioneer of north Texas, Lemuel Noah Edwards, who is credited with founding Aubrey, Texas, in the mid-nineteenth century. Mary Louise Tobin, born on Armistice Day, November 11, 1918 amid an influenza pandemic and over a hundred years later surviving the COVID pandemic, passed away in her granddaughter’s arms on November 26, 2022. She was 104 years old.
Notably, Louise Tobin was the last survivor of the swing era of the 1930s. Yet, she will be remembered as having been much more than that. Indeed, Louise was blessed to have lived many lives during her 104-plus years. She was the daughter and eighth child to Hugh and Edna Mae Tobin. She was the little sister whose singing publicly in church and social functions by age nine spurred her older sister Dora to enter Louise in a CBS Radio talent contest in 1934 which launched her professional singing career. She was the love and first wife of Harry James and mother to Harry and Tim, often calling them “my two, beautiful boys.” Louise was Benny Goodman’s star vocalist during the height of the swing era, 1939. She was wife, business partner, and featured vocalist with Andrew “Peanuts” Hucko. Married in 1967, Peanuts was the love of her life and her professional partner, traveling the world together until his death in 2003. Louise was grandmother and great grandmother, “mamalou”, leaving behind a caring, loving family and countless friends and fans all over the world.
Throughout her life, Louise was a person of strong faith. In addition to her belief in God, she also found support from the strength of her family, most recently evidenced in the angelic care of her granddaughter Karen James Casteel and her family.
As an artist, Louise has been described as “one of the most jazz-oriented and blues-inflected singers of the swing era.” She leaves a recorded history dating from 1939 to 1992. Louise has received many accolades and awards including a tile on the Denton Arts Walk of Fame and an Honorary Doctorate from Texas A&M University-Commerce where she also donated the materials for an archive appropriately named the Louise Tobin and Peanuts Hucko Jazz Collection.
In her thank you speech at the commencement ceremony when Louise was awarded her Honorary Doctorate, she said: “To be part of something that will live beyond our lifetimes is truly the highest of honors. Sometimes I just have to pinch myself to realize that I was part of that. After all, I was just a young girl from rural Texas who loved to sing.”
Those who were blessed to know Louise personally can attest to her life-long passion for singing and, more specifically, her boundless graciousness, charm, kindness, glamour, and beautifully warm and loving smile.
Survivors include two sons, Harry Jeffery James of Allen, TX, Tim James and his wife Pat of Nacogdoches, TX; grandchildren, Jeffery James, Karen Louise Casteel (Marc), Laura James-Buchanan (Jim), Jackie Baugh Moore, Julie Baugh Cloud, Jerin Timothy James (Lucia), Christopher James; great-grandchildren, Ashley Hall, Nathan James, Reece James Casteel, Holden James, Jarin James, Owen James, Tobin James; several great great-grandchildren.
The funeral service will be held at 3:00 PM Saturday, December 10, 2022 in the chapel of Mulkey-Bowles-Montgomery Funeral Home, 705 N. Locust St., Denton. Visitation will be held from 2:00 PM until service time.