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Elsie “Marie” Owens Toler

Elsie “Marie” Owens Toler departed this life on April 11, 2020. She died as she lived — gracefully, peacefully, and in her own time. Her mind remained sharp even as her physical health declined. God provided loving caregivers who became treasured friends: Kimberly Fletcher, Pauline Kearney and J.C. Carter. Community Home Care and Hospice of Washington served her during the last year of her life and were a true source of comfort and compassion.

Marie was born in Washington on March 30, 1936. Her parents were the late Wilbert T. Owens and Callorie Owens. She often recalled her childhood memories, referring to that time as “idyllic.” Marie graduated from Washington High School and East Carolina University. She shared 52 years of marriage with the love of her life, the late Curtis Clayton Toler.

She leaves behind many family members and friends to celebrate her life. Marie loved her children, Graham Keith Toler, daughter LaDonna Toler Mitchell and son-in-law Michael Lee Mitchell. She was extremely proud and held a special place in her heart for her grandchildren, Sarah Morgan Oswald, John Curtis Oswald, Austin and Aaron Mitchell. Marie loved babies and was so delighted with her great-grandson, Aiden Mitchell. Marie’s three sisters, Pat Stauffer, Doris Wallace and Connie Owens, were a blessing to her and lovingly supported her even as her health declined. She shared a special bond with her sisters-in-law, Sheila Clark, Vivian Carter and Jan Mullen. She shared memorable moments with her many nieces and nephews. Marie enjoyed many wonderful times with “the gang:” Peggy and the late Taylor Koonce, C A and Juanita Nelson, and Marty and Helen Martikee. Marie and Curtis also enjoyed a special friendship with Arnold and Janice White of Pine Level, North Carolina.

Marie taught for over 30 years and took great pride in her students. She enjoyed her flowers, cooking and eating good food, and just spending time with people. She played the piano and organ for pleasure and at the First Christian Church, and, later in life, for Wares Chapel UMC. She was a talented and prolific artist and spent her spare time painting, sewing and doing needlework until her vision declined.

Marie worked at Brown Library for over 10 years and made many friends there. She never met a stranger and practiced southern hospitality her entire life. She always had a kind word for everyone and loved to joke around. Marie had a special love of animals and enjoyed the companionship of many special cats and dogs, most recently Dexter, a very special rescue dog who predeceased her.

She was a member of the First Christian Church in Washington and enjoyed the loving support and prayers of Wares Chapel UMC, First Church of Christ, and Chocowinity UMC Widows Plus Ministry.

J. Bonner Paul Sr. performed a tremendous act of kindness many years ago for Marie and Curtis, therefore it was only fitting that his son, Joseph B. Paul Jr., was chosen to serve our family at this time.

In lieu of flowers, please honor Marie’s memory by performing an act of kindness or service to someone in need of a blessing. In this way Christ will continue to be glorified in her passing as she glorified him in her living. A private burial will be held.

You may share a memory with the family by visiting www.josephpaulfdl.com.

Joseph B. Paul Jr., Funeral Director Licensee of Washington, is serving the Toler family.