Mary Ann Toler

January 16, 1946 - August 28, 2020
Mary Ann Toler

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Mary Ann Potts Toler, of Wilmington passed away on Friday, August 28, 2020.

A native of Washington, North Carolina, she was born exactly on the cusp of Southern Belle and Hippie. She wrote scads of thank you notes and birthday cards, but only on recycled paper.

Luminous. Bright. Beautiful. Talented. Charming. Kind hearted. Ornery. Mischievous. Connector. Instigator. Lord of the Ring Leaders. Unfiltered. Seldom in error (self description from her resume), gave a wide berth to punctuality.

She was the original Greek Statue from whom all other 4 AM confidants are copied. Her extroversion passed through gatherings like a flash flood dispensing business cards. Total strangers would cross six lanes of traffic just to spontaneously share their innermost intimacies and provide the most graphic details of their medical reports, often with annotated x-rays or raw footage from colonoscopies. She had an ear for them all, a word of kindly advice and a healer’s confidential aside on behalf of Turmeric and Apple Cider Vinegar.

That person rocking around on the ground having progressed from laughter to hyperventilation? Mary Ann. First one to start dancing solo in the aisle at a concert? Mary Ann. Cupping in her hands a bug found in the kitchen to be placed outdoors? Mary Ann.

A monarch among social butterflies, it was impossible to reference the most rural crossroads, seasonal encampment or defunct Bible College east of Raleigh without the tagline..I went out with a guy from there.

And a storyteller of the William Faulkner/Rodney Dangerfield school of tale spinning in Dixie. Not much of a through line but cascading character sketches interspersed with all the best gossip from genealogy going back to Jamestown all effortlessly recounted. Every slight became a legend; grievances were bequeathed down generations to be nurtured like Orchids.

Abhorred technology, except for hands free Bluetooth telephone in a car. In fact, her Coat of Arms pictures a Cell Tower In a Vineyard. Completely dismissive of anything relying on numbers. Probability missed the point, something either happened or it didn’t.

We had to rent a storage unit just for return address labels and calendars. At last count, Mary Ann was sponsoring food, shelter, and college loan forgiveness to more than 20,000 feral cats in all 50 states and Guam.

She has traveled from is to is/was. But she worked a loom of loving that clothes us in a passion as oceanic as the blue of her eyes.

No services are planned.

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Wilmington Funeral & Cremation 1535 S. 41st Street, Wilmington, NC 28403.

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  • August 24, 2023
    Nannette Dusseault lit a candle:
    Lit since August 24, 2023 at 8:42:53 PM

  • September 04, 2022
    Paula lit a candle:
    Lit since September 4, 2022 at 9:20:30 PM

  • September 10, 2020
    Gareth Evans says:
    Lovely obituary of a well-lived life. I knew Mary Ann mostly via radio station meetings, but her joy, warmth and humor were very obvious even in those once-in-a-while settings. My sincere condolences to you.

  • April 08, 2022
    Pepper McGowan says:
    This is what I aspire to be.... I didn't get the privilege of knowing her and found this while searching for a former colleague who shares a surname. I wish I had met this person and interestingly enough because I don't believe in coincidences my mom's name was Mary Ann. She passed away in September. Just reading this obituary is one of the rare times that I've actually felt like this was about a person the way it ought to be with all of them not just generic identicate in print. A lot of life in too short of time. But real excessive vitality... I'm in my early 40s my half brother was born a year and a month after your Mary Ann. Used to say that was what was going to be the proper term for whatever my cause of exit was regarding this planet one day. "Terminal optimism leading to excessive vitality.' that wouldn't be the worst thing right unless it lasts deeper into my 9th century then I can hor finally imagine. I'm having some serious health challenges now. It brought me such Joy to Know about this woman and that she too was a feral cat mother. That's me, I knew I was supposed to be the crazy cat lady when I was four, just hard to catch up to yourself and be divorced and old enough and determined enough that cat lady isn't necessarily an insult. I was raised in a Catholic home. I've been a therapist. Right now I'm a professional astrologer and I find more magic and more miracles and all that hokey sounding new agey typical as people who dismiss it would say but I claim some of that may not be such BS. Looking for signs , validations, the past week as I've been closer to the other end of my life and where we begin it, unsolicited validations and signs that makes sense to me show up by way of Internet especially that are very specific to something I need and appreciate finding either relating to my own situation and my health but mostly my mom. And when I'm completely doing nothing related to any of that thinking of looking at doing a myriad of tasks that don't involve my mom or cats or anything other than work, something will come up so specific loaded with irony sometimes and it'll just be in the advertising feeds on social media for stuff that has nothing to do with anything I'd want but that random stuff. I don't know what it is about nor do I pretend to but I do know there is something more than when we stop breathing here. And I didn't know your friend or daughter however you relate to this woman in the picture but she was luminous caught my attention so hard I couldn't not leave a note to say I'm sorry I didn't meet her but I'm so glad she was born and did what she did to those who were important to her. You were lucky as were many cats you are lucky all of us. There's more and after. You'll see each other again and even if those who like to fight me With science say that's ridiculous physics says we are made of stardust, that makes sense and energy cannot be created and destroyed. This was a soul and you have one too. Will be drawn back together and it will make more sense. Will see each other again one day. All of everyone we ever touched her love. And many many cats are among those. Thank you for the opportunity to meet your friend I'll be later than I'd like it have been. You must miss her very much. God bless you. If you're not into him or his pronouns, then Good vibes the universe bless you all and none of those things already have. Look what a wonderful creature of stardust you had to share this world with after all. That's not a blessing? I didn't even meet her and I feel blessed for finding this..

  • September 18, 2020
    Nannette Dusseault says:
    "Hi girlfriend." "Hey darling." This is how Mary Ann would always greet me. She'd answer the phone, even if she was busy or tired, but if you told her a funny or dramatic story, she was all in, and all ears. Everything else could wait. She used funny southern expressions that tickled me. She'd often be fixin' to do something; she'd describe people who got away with things as walking in the cool of the evening; and people without two cents to their name as so poor they didn't have a pot to p_ _s in. All of us in her upstate New York posse could never get enough of her. She was the glue that held us together. She put the sparkle in Christmas and the Boo! in Halloween. One year, I showed up on her doorstep unannounced just before Thanksgiving, after a 14-hour drive. Mary Ann didn't bat an eye. She simply answered the door while on her phone, ushered me in and within an hour we were dining at a beachfront restaurant. She was proud to be unconventional, proud of her "daddy" and dearly missed both of her parents. She was an alumni relations director when we met about 30 years ago and she has always been a hard worker, a volunteer, and a lover and supporter of the arts. Mary Ann was raised as an only child, but grew up to be a beloved sister to many. If you suffered a slight or had a rough day, she was the most loyal friend, right in there fighting for you. If you had a funny tale to tell, she'd eat it up with a spoon and ask for more. I'll miss her kind friendship forever. She was warm, compassionate and fun, socially gifted and humble, with an extraordinary soft spot for animals. She lived a colorful life, making friends wherever she went and creating magical porch gardens and pieces of art for her friends. Best of all, she made us matter what. I love how excited she got when planning to travel and how energized she'd get when telling a story, gesturing wildly at times, "holding court," as they say. The pandemic took from us the opportunity to be with her during her greatest need, yet Bill was faithfully beside her, and somehow found the time to keep us up to date, too. They both gracefully and lovingly protected us from pain. I will surely miss you, dearest Mary Ann.