Outer Banks entrepreneur, Dare County commissioner Jim Tobin passes away after battling cancer

Outer Banks entrepreneur, Dare County commissioner Jim Tobin passes away after battling cancer

October 19th, 2023

Jim Tobin, an Outer Banks entrepreneur and Dare County commissioner who was at the forefront of keeping local waterways navigable for generations to come, died Wednesday after battling cancer. He was 69.

Jim Tobin

A native of Berkley, California, Tobin moved to his wife Tammy’s hometown of Manns Habor in 1989, following a career at Conam Nuclear as an inspector of nuclear power plants.

According to his obituary, Tobin started a commercial fishing business, working pound nets targeting flounder for 15 years. During the same time frame, Jim and Tammy started retail nursery Caimen Gardens that quickly outgrew their backyard and moved to the corner of U.S. 64 and N.C. 345 in Manteo in 1996.

After selling the property at the Midway intersection to CVS Pharmacy in 2004, they took a 2 1/2 year sabbatical, sailing the Caribbean aboard their 51-foot sailboat.

Many beaches and countless dives later, they returned to the United States and shortly after arriving home in 2007, an opportunity emerged to operate and own the business at Pirate’s Cove Marina.

In 2017, Tobin joined the Dare County Board of Commissioners representing Roanoke Island and the mainland.

A statement from the county said Tobin will long be remembered for his passion and leadership in keeping Dare County’s waterways navigable for the commercial and recreational fishermen who depend on them as their highway to work.

He served as chairman of Dare County’s Oregon Inlet Task Force for many years, and during that time he worked tirelessly with local, state and federal officials to keep local waterways safe and navigable.

In remembering Tobin, Dare County Board of Commissioners Chairman Robert Woodard fondly recalled, “Jim had a vision, and he accomplished something that was thought to be impossible. He was the driving force in putting together a public-private partnership that resulted in Dare County having a dredging vessel operating under local control and direction.”  

Chairman Woodard added, “This was a game changer. Before Jim made the Miss Katie dredge a reality, we used to have to hope and pray that the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers would have the time and resources to keep our inlets open. Thanks to Jim’s incredible leadership and perseverance, we now have a dredging vessel that is the envy of coastal communities across America.”   

Jim Tobin speaks at the dedication of the Dredge Miss Katie. [Dare County photo]

In addition to the Oregon Inlet Task Force and Dare County Waterways Commission, he also served on the Manteo Rotary Club, NOAA Monitor Marine Sanctuary Advisory Council, North Carolina Marine Industrial Park Authority, Cooperative Extension Advisory Council, Older Adult Services Advisory Council, Transportation Advisory Board, Children and Youth Partnership for Dare County Board, and the Nursing Home Community Advisory Board, where he was an outspoken advocate for the needs and rights of citizens.

For many years he was a vital part of North Carolina Cooperative Extension, where he took an active role in 4-H activities to create a positive environment for youth to develop their head, heart, hands and health. Commissioner Tobin was an encouraging voice for young people to take on proactive leadership roles, benefitting their peers and community.

Tobin was always known for his passion for the outdoors and always found pleasure cooking the fresh local catch to canning the produce that was grown in his garden.

He is survived by his wife, Tammy T. Tobin of Manns Harbor, North Carolina; sisters Carole T. Smith (William) of Lake Havasu City, Arizona; and Janet Tobin of Hercules, California; brother William L. Tobin (Sherie) of El Dorado Hills, California; father-in-law Melvin T. Twiddy, Jr., of Manns Harbor, North Carolina; brother-in-law Melvin T. Twiddy, III (Harriett) of Charlotte, North Carolina; nieces Amanda Twiddy, Allison Twiddy, and Megan Twiddy; and nephews David Combs (Alexandra), Brian Combs, Zack Smith, Matthew Smith, Patrick Tobin, and Daniel Tobin (Allyson).

A celebration of life service will be held Wednesday, October 25, 2023 at three o’clock in the afternoon at the Pavilion at Pirate’s Cove Marina in Manteo, NC. A reception will take place immediately following the celebration of life.

Memorials may be made to the Outer Banks Health Cancer Center in memory of Jim Tobin by visiting www.outerbankshealth.org/cancercenter or by calling 252-449-5933. All donations will stay local to support Outer Banks patients battling cancer.

Twiford Funeral Homes, Outer Banks is assisting the family with arrangements. Condolences and memories may be shared at www.TwifordFH.com.

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