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Woman cleared health hurdle


ST. GEORGE - Local newspaper correspondent, historian and churchwoman Phoebe Elizabeth Toy, who died on Oct. 25 at age 98, is being remembered as a kindly little woman of great faith who accomplished much despite a cradle-to-grave battle with eczema.

"Elizabeth had problems with eczema (a recurring intensely itchy inflammation of the skin) all of her life," her brother and only surviving sibling, Eugene, 86, recalled in interview. "My mother would tell the story of how, when she was a baby, the doctors told her there was nothing they could do. 'All you can do is keep her comfortable because she won't live long,' they said.

"And here she is, having outlived the entire family."

Born in St. George on Dec. 19, 1910, Elizabeth was the second of four children - two boys and two girls - of Alvah Toy, office manager at the St. George Pulp and Paper Co., and his schoolteacher wife, Phoebe (O'Brien).

Elizabeth, who never married, was a longtime resident of Riverview Drive in St. George.

She died peacefully at Ridgewood Manor, Pennfield.

Besides Eugene, of St. George, her survivors include one brother-in-law, James Waycott of Fredericton, and several nieces, nephews and cousins.

In addition to her parents, she was predeceased by her older brother, Edwin Toy, and one sister, Frances Waycott.

Elizabeth was active in the Charlotte County Historical Society and, at age 92, co-authored a book of historic photographs with Saint John historian and storyteller David Goss entitled, St. George and Its Neighbours.

For most of her working life, she served the St. George area as news correspondent for The Telegraph-Journal, The Daily Gleaner and the Quoddy Tides.

She was also active in the St. George Baptist Church, where she taught Sunday School and was active in the Women's Missionary Society.

"She did very well for herself considering she missed a lot of school due to her health and had practically educated herself," Eugene said.

"She was usually quite cheerful, even though she was sick a lot," he added. "And she was always thinking about somebody else. If someone else was sick, she was always wondering how they were getting along."

She enjoyed visits from her much-travelled nieces and receiving postcards from them.

Goss's connection with Elizabeth Toy started about decade ago, when she called him to contribute some photographs to his book Christmas in New Brunswick, and ended with his most recent visit to see her at Ridgewood Manor.

It was after his Christmas book went to print, he said, that his new friend revealed to him that she had 3,000 photographs and would like to do a similar book on the St. George area. Considering she was 92 and quite frail, he figured an hour each visit would be all she could endure.

Instead, he would arrive at 1 p.m., and they would work together until 5 p.m.

"Her mind was absolutely crisp," he said, and she always had a story to tell.

"She embodied the Christian woman," he said. "Next to my mother, she was the most Christian woman I ever met. All the time we spent together, I never heard her speak one word meanly about someone. She knew just about everything that went on in the county, the good people and the bad people, and she only spoke good things. And she had a tremendous faith in the Lord."

SOURCE: New Brunswick Telegraph-Journal (Saint John, NB) - November 2, 2009.

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