Madaleine Louise Harris Toy, 101, died on January 14, 2013.
She was a daughter of George H. Harris and Annie L. Reinhardt Harris and a resident of Pawtuxet Village for most of her life. Madaleine’s roots in Rhode Island and Pawtuxet Village go deep. She was a descendant of Roger Williams on her father's direct line and a direct descendant of three of the original settlers in Pawtuxet. Her love of and appreciation for history and preservation may be attributed to these connections. Madaleine was an environmentalist and dedicated recycler before those activities became trendy. There were always interesting and creative ways she seemed to find to reuse or recycle. She was a multi-talented seamstress/tailor who made most of her and her children’s clothes, a gardener, woodworker; painter, paper hanger; writer, historian, craftsperson and an activist who had always volunteered for community activities. Madaleine’s community activism continued through her life with membership, to name a few, in The Society for the Propagation of Johnnycakes, where she was treasurer for many years and cooked at their demonstrations of making “proper” johnnycakes with Rhode Island flint corn. She also was a member of Women for a Non-Nuclear Future; and Concerned Citizens, a group founded to prevent the building of nuclear power plants on the old Naval Auxiliary Air Station Charlestown in Charlestown, RI. She helped to establish the City of Warwick Historic Cemetery Commission and continued until she was 100 to serve as a commissioner. She also was a member and craftsperson of the Fayerweather Craft Guild, an active member of the Pawtuxet Village Association, and the Pawtuxet Baptist Church. One of her most visible accomplishments was saving and restoring the historic Christopher Rhodes house at 25 Post Road, Warwick which had been owned by her family in the late 1800s. Although an extraordinary effort, it was a labor of love to bring the house and grounds back to their beauty and return it to her family’s ownership.
She is survived by her children and spouses: Mary-Ann Robinson of Bath, New York (Robert), Paul (Pete) C. Toy, Jr. of Exeter, (Judith) and Polly T. Barey of Warwick, (Steve Starger); grandchildren Shelley K. Barker, Amey L. Rusak, Philip Robinson, all of Bath, NY, Karen J. Toy of South Kingstown, Linda T. Sessa of Madison, Conneticut, Emily B. Barey, Madison, Wisconsin, and Ashley Barey Collins, Erie, Colorado; 15 great-grandchildren; and several nieces and nephews. She was predeceased by her brother, George A. Harris, her sister, Myrtle Harris Dunn; her husband of 35 years, Paul C. Toy, Sr.; her granddaughters Betsy Louise Robinson and Ellen Toy Russell; and several nieces and nephews.
The family thanks the staff of the Scandinavian Home and Diana Lutz, her friend and companion, for their care and help, enabling her to maintain her independence, and Gentiva Hospice for their care and expertise as she took her last journey.
A memorial service will be planned for spring or early summer to celebrate Madaleine’s life. Contributions in her name may be made to the Salvation Army, the Warwick Historical Society, or the Warwick Public Library. Monahan Drabble Sherman Funeral Home has charge of arrangements. Those wishing to leave comments or condolences may visit their website, www.monahandrabblesherman.com