Franklin Countys First News

James Darrell Toner (1959-2018)

James (Jim) D. Toner

NEW VINEYARD - James (Jim) D. Toner, 59, of New Vineyard, lost his courageous battle with cancer on July 16, 2018 surrounded by his loving wife and children. Jim grew up farming in Aroostook County with his large family, no doubt where his excitement for outdoor recreation and stewardship began.

He graduated from Hodgdon High School in 1977. He later graduated from the University of Maine in 1981 with a degree in Parks and Recreation. It is there that he met his best friend, Barbara Park, whom he married in 1983.

His first job in the field he so loved was in Vernon, Vermont. He then spent 18 years as the well-respected Director of Parks and Recreation for the City of Waterville where he helped build new sports fields, oversaw the construction of a new public pool facility, and even dressed up as the Easter Bunny for the popular city Easter egg hunt. In the latter part of his tenure at the City of Waterville, his job expanded to include Director of Public Works. Jim was also involved in the Maine Recreation and Park Association where he served a term as President, coordinated regional conferences, and helped raise the visibility of the profession.

Jim left Waterville to assume the position of Director of the Fitness and Recreation Center at the University of Maine at Farmington in 2006. It is there that he grew the Fitness Center into a community hub for fitness and recreation and created the successful Mainely Outdoors program that exposed hundreds to the joy of recreational opportunities in Western Maine.

Jim loved all sports and was an avid Boston Celtics and Red Sox fan. He was certified as a basketball referee and truly enjoyed watching young athletes learn to play the game he loved. Jim also enjoyed a good round of golf with family and friends. His friendly but competitive nature was most evident, however, playing cards around the table at home.

Jim will be remembered for his generous spirit and tremendous kindness. His sense of humor and love of practical jokes will leave a lasting impression on those who knew him. He preferred cheerfulness to sadness and fun over frustration. He was patient and thoughtful, always helping others before himself.

Even though Jim grew up in, and loved, northern Maine, a big part of his life centered around where he found the most peace, Western Maine. From logging in the woods to hitting the trails on an ATV with friends, Jim was at home in New Vineyard.

He is survived by his wife, Barbara Park Toner of New Vineyard; son Joseph Park Toner and daughter-in-law Rachel Ventrella Toner of Jay; daughter Anna Toner Reese and son-in-law Adam Reese from Fountain Inn, South Carolina; grandchildren Vera Kathryn Toner and step grandchildren Allison and Ethan Reese; mother Leanne Toner of Houlton; sisters Pam Stewart, Crystal Toner, Liz Toner, Michelle Toner, brothers Pat Toner, Matthew Toner, Tom Toner, and long-time family friend Gordon Stairs. His local circle of family also included mother-in-law Genevieve Miga Park, sister-in-law Julie Park Lagoyda and her husband John Paul (Skip) Lagoyda; Winnie Park Said and her husband Brian Said; Christine Park Warren and her husband Bob Warren; Lisa Park Laflin and her husband Brent Laflin; as well as many nieces and nephews. He was predeceased by his father, Darrell Toner and father-in-law, Joseph Park.

Jim’s family invites you to a Celebration of his life at the University of Maine at Farmington North Dining Hall on Friday, July 27 at 5 p.m., followed by a reception. Please, come as you are.

In lieu of flowers, donations may be made in Jim’s name to the James Toner Memorial Scholarship, which will be dedicated to a student in the field of outdoor recreation. Donations can be sent to UMF Ferro Alumni Center, 242 Main Street Farmington, Maine 04938. Gifts can also be made online at Service arrangements are in the care of the Cremation Care Division of the Wiles Remembrance Center, 137 Farmington Falls Rd., (Rtes. 2 & 27), Farmington.

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15 Responses »

  1. Sending strength and peace to the entire extended Toner family, a wonderful collection of good humans all around

  2. Barbara and family, I'm so very sorry for your loss.

  3. So sorry. Thinking of you.

  4. My thoughts to Jims' entire family. He certainly was a patient man right in his element working with the staff and students. He will be missed may many.

  5. Barbara and family, my condolences on your loss.

  6. Our sincere condolences to Jim's family, friends and fellow professionals. He will be missed.

  7. My sympathies and prayers to Leanne and Families

  8. So sorry for your loss!!

  9. Our sincere condolences to Jim's family in every sense of the word. His was a very kind and generous spirit.

  10. Sorry for your loss...It was always so nice to see and talk to Jim in the store. He was a kind and gentle soul and will be missed.

  11. Jim Toner, a County farmer for sure! I fondly remember one time while attending a national parks and recreation conference, Jim relived the tale of when he was a young boy, 8 years old or so, and his dad let him drive the Farmall tractor with manure spreader out of the barn area. Jim was not tall enough to reach the brake or the clutch...but he certainly knew where the throttle on the column was...Picture Jim telling this story, with all the physical comedy of the motions, of how he slipped off the seat and reaching with his tippy toes to release the brake while putting the clutch in to put the tractor into gear....jumping back up into the seat to bounce his way out of the barn area and with a full load of manure, pulling down the throttle to go faster...and faster he went! All the while the manure spinning so fast it began to whap, whap, whap him in the back of his head!! We laughed and laughed at Jim's story and for that, and so much more, I am very grateful to have known and worked with Jim in the parks and recreation field. To Jim's family, my sincere condolences.
    From a County girl, Cindy Hazelton, Gorham Parks and Recreation Director.

  12. So sorry to hear of Jim's passing. What a wonderful community asset he has been, and a role model of kindness and character. Greg also knew him from his time in Waterville. Our condolences to the family-
    Greg and Tracy Williams

  13. Barbara I am so sorry to hear this. You and your family are in our prayers.

  14. So sorry to hear of this loss. Haven't seen Jim since our high school. Way to young to leave this earth.

  15. Barb, please accept my sincerest condolences. You and your family are in my prayers.