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 http://bit.ly/UMFScholarshipFund. Service arrangements are in the care of the Cremation Care Division of the Wiles Remembrance Center, 137 Farmington Falls Rd., (Rtes. 2 & 27), Farmington.