Tobias Yarmolinsky died on February 13, 2022, at his home in Charlestown, Massachusetts. He had suffered with Parkinson’s disease for twenty-five years.
Tobias, known as Toby to his family and friends, was an investment banker in Boston. He was known for his expertise in public finance, and he specialized in structuring complex deals for non-profit organizations.
His clients included WGBH, the YMCA of Greater Boston, Martha’s Vineyard Land Bank, MassDevelopment, the Boston Housing Authority, the Cambridge Housing Authority and Harvard University. He was instrumental in arranging financing for the Dimock Community Health Center with the Community Health Center Capital Fund. This project won an award from the Social Compact, a Washington DC based coalition of business leaders promoting investment in lower income communities and became a national model for funding capital improvements for community health centers.
Fradique Rocha, a former colleague, writes: “He had a passion for affordable housing, believing that it is a key component of our society, not just for the families residing there but for the overall quality of a community. Called ‘the most socially conscious investment banker they knew’ by many in the housing world, Toby brought tremendous insight and intellect to his field. He had extensive connections and relationships in the business world, and he would make every effort to bring these to the table in order to make a project successful. He loved a good deal!”
Born in Washington, D.C. in 1952, Toby grew up in McLean, Virginia. His parents, both native New Yorkers, moved there when his father, Adam, began serving in the Kennedy and Johnson administrations. Adam Yarmolinsky was a special assistant to Robert MacNamara and, later, an aide to Sargent Shriver, and one of the principal architects of Johnson’s “War on Poverty.” His mother, Harriet (Rypins) Yarmolinsky, worked in early childhood education and Project Headstart.
Toby attended the Green Hedges School in Vienna, Virginia and then the Landon School in Washington. At the age of fourteen, he moved with his family to Cambridge, Massachusetts where his father was employed as a professor at the Harvard Law School.
Toby attended the Palfrey Street School in Watertown, and then Antioch College from which he graduated in 1975. He worked for a summer as a copy boy at The Boston Globe and spent a college year abroad in London. He was a member of the Committee for the Better Use of Air, which organized the Great Boston Kite Festival in the early ‘70s in Franklin Park.
One of Toby’s early passions was juvenile prison reform, a field in which he worked under Jerome Miller, commissioner of the Massachusetts Department of Youth Services, later director of the Illinois Department of Children and Families. Toby aided Miller in his efforts to close certain troubled juvenile detention facilities. After college, Toby held a position as Director of the Lowell Diversion Project, an experimental
project aimed at diverting court-involved youth from incarceration with social service interventions. He then served as Development Director at the Crime and Justice Foundation, focused on criminal justice reform, including mediation and alternative sentencing.
In 1980, Toby went to the Yale School of Management, where he earned a master’s degree in Public and Private Management. After Yale, he entered the world of investment banking, specializing in municipal finance, first at Shawmut Bank and subsequently at Tucker Anthony and RBC where he worked until 2009.
Toby and his wife, Phyllis Menken, maintained homes in Charlestown and Chappaquiddick. They enjoyed busy professional and social lives and traveled extensively, despite Toby’s illness. After retiring, Toby continued to serve on boards, to do philanthropic work—especially with the Family Nurturing Center of Massachusetts—and to collect American stained glass of the secular sort.
As Toby’s condition worsened, he and Phyllis hired a series of aides, many of whom became lifelong friends and members of the extended Yarmolinsky family. Adamantly opposed to taking the standard medication for Parkinson’s due to its side-effects, Toby managed his symptoms through a regimen including yoga, exercise, and medical marijuana. He remained mentally sharp throughout his later life.
In addition to Phyllis, he leaves their daughter Michelle Menken Craine, his son Gompo, his brothers Benjamin and Matthew, grandchildren Marley, Isabella, Deji and Metog, nephews David, Max and Louis and niece Hannah, and a wide circle of friends.