Family remembers famous architect killed by teen in Telegraph crash

A crash in Bloomfield Township claims the life of a world famous architect.

Irving Tobocman was killed after another driver ran a red light on Telegraph. If you have driven around Oakland County, chances are you have seen his work, using white brick, flat roofs in contemporary designs that were ahead of its time.

David and Susan Tobocman allowed FOX 2 inside his lavish Birmingham home - giving us a glimpse into where the world renowned architect created many of his sleek contemporary designs. About 450 homes and buildings he designed are now considered timeless masterpieces.

"He creates places people live in over time," said David Tobocman, his son. 

"We both knew he would work until the day he died," said Susan, his daughter. "Of course we expected him to live much longer."

Last Friday afternoon Tobocman's accomplished life ended tragically when two 16-year-old girls heading north on Telegraph ran a red light at Lone Pine and struck Tobocman has he headed west.

The teens were injured, but they will be okay.

"I am angry about that," Susan said. "But I'm not angry at the girls. I know it was an accident, nobody tries to do anything like that. There was no alcohol involved."

"They are young drivers," David said. "It is a condition of being a young driver. You make mistakes and we all get into these high speed vehicles and there is no margin of error sometimes."

Although David and Susan are both successful musicians, each live in opposite ends of the country. They say they were very close to their father. He was just in New York visiting his daughter and grandson a few weeks ago.

"I said do you think about death because a lot of his friends are gone," Susan said. "He said 'No I don't think about it, I'm not afraid of it, what's the point? I’m alive.'"

And his work reflected that.

"He was inspired by his idols from the Bauhaus movement," Susan said. "But he was also inspired by nature. He loved this part of Michigan because of the landscape and the trees."

"(He was) completely independent," David said. "At the end, he didn't even have a draftsman, he did everything by hand with a pencil and paper, no computers."

Irving Tobocman will be remembered for his vision, but David and Susan will miss their father for the man he was - smart, compassionate and funny.

Inside his wallet they found about four dozen hand-written jokes.

"So he could recant them at a moment's notice," Susan said. "Because he was so funny, he loved to make people laugh."

Funeral services are set for 10 a.m. Wednesday at Ira Kaufman Chapel in Southfield. Interment will be at Machpelah Cemetery in Ferndale.
 

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