James Robert “Bob” Toler, 74, entrepreneur and sailor, died September 8th, 2007 in Fort Lauderdale, Florida after a long illness.
Born in Washington, NC and raised there on the Pamlico River, he never lost his love of tidal waters. He attended Duke University for a year as a divinity scholar and football player and then left to fight the Korean war. His assignment in Europe fixing radios was the first step towards a brilliant engineering career. After the war he married Connie Davis from Wilson, NC and moved to Indiana to get an engineering degree at Tri-State University. The September before graduation in 1957 his first child, a daughter, was born. After receiving the degree he moved to the Washington, DC area to work for Melpar. In 1959 his first son was born, and two years later his wife Connie died of cancer, leaving his with two children. The following year, 1962, he married a co-worker at Melpar, Lillian McMath, and they had two more children and raised them near the Potomac River in Maryland. He became an avid small boat sailor and racer during this period, most notably attending the Albacore World Championships in Plymouth, England, with his children as crew. Later he moved aboard a cruising sailboat and took many voyages between Washington DC and the Bahamas.
Bob and four lifelong friends founded their first successful aircraft simulation company, SECOR, in Fairfax, Virginia in 1967 and thus began a partnership that was meaningful for the rest of his life. He was proud of the fact that they were able to make all decisions unanimously and remained friends to the end. Although Bob originally served as head of Engineering, he later found a second calling in International Sales and Marketing. His casual camaraderie and intelligent honesty were assets in both careers. After selling SECOR to Sperry they went on to form Quintron in Chantilly, Virginia in the 1980s and later sold this company to Raytheon.
In 1983 Bob married Patricia O’Donnell. After a few years of visiting the Bahamas while living in Virginia, they finally made Marsh Harbour, Abaco, Bahamas their home in 1994. In addition to participating in numerous local charities they started the Abaco Cruiser’s Net, a VHF radio service to the cruising community, and BarometerBob.org, a weather website for sailors. He continued active in both until his illness in 2006.
Bob is survived by his wife Pattie, his siblings Whiting Toler and Ann Behrens, his four children Marie Toler Raney, James (Jim) Toler, Frances Toler and Trent Toler, and his nine grandchildren: Zachariah Glick, Soren Toler, Eric Raney, Jay Toler, Danielle Toler, Sarah Toler, Nicole Toler, Hazel Toler, and Sophia Toler-Smith.
The funeral was held September 15th, 2007 in the Bahamas. A celebration of Bob’s life was held on October 27th, 2007 in Washington, DC from 2-5 pm at Phillip’s Seafood Restaurant at 900 Water St, SW, Washington DC.