NEW VINEYARD — James (Jim) D. Toner, 59, of New Vineyard lost his courageous battle with cancer Monday, July 16, 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, Vt. 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 on 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, S.C.; 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 longtime 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; and many nieces and nephews.

He was predeceased by his father, Darrell Toner, and father-in-law, Joseph Park.

James D. Toner

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