James Harrison Tolman - April 9, 1941- January 13, 2023
“My sleep is now peaceful; my mind is at ease; my future now safe in His hands.” - Jim Tolman, 8/7/2011.
Jim (Tinker) Tolman took his final breath on Friday, January 13th with the assurance he so often waxed poetic about, the promise of salvation, his Lord and Savior waiting for him at those pearly gates, and a reunion with his dear beloved family that had gone before him. A prolific writer and poet, Jim wrote: “I grew up on an old, small farm in rural Maine...” Jim was one of nine children born in Athens and raised in Solon, Maine, to Clarence and Dora (Gardiner) Tolman. Born with a cleft palate, one of his earliest childhood experiences seemed to set the stage for what would be a life with more than his fair share of trials. He traveled from Maine to the Shriner’s Hospital in Springfield, Massachusetts, where he had to be left for surgery and recovery and travel back to Maine with strangers. He would often speak of this time in his life remembering both the fear alongside the kindness of strangers and was indebted to the Shriners.
Jim attended schools in Solon, graduating in 1959. After high school he attended the Skowhegan Business School, picking up his accounting skills and setting him off on a varied career path that appropriately makes it impossible to define him. Jim would never fit in a mold, or in one state. His next stop on his journey would take him to Florida and his first long term taste of warmer weather. Later returning to Maine, he worked at Libby Lumber, and then landed at Solon Manufacturing where he spent a significant time as a manager. His children and nieces and nephews would say the best part of his time at Solon Manufacturing was the giant rolls of art paper, an endless supply of tongue depressors, and Woodles!
Always on a quest for learning, Jim next worked as a bus driver (oh the stories he would tell) while attending the University of Maine, Farmington, where he earned his Bachelor of Science degree in Social Studies. He taught for a time at Harmony School, where he took great joy in working with children.
Moving on, he decided to obtain his Real Estate license, and excelled, as he did at everything he tried. He loved walking the land in his home state, always an explorer even as he worked. As his personal life continued to be challenged, it was time for another move. Jim left his beloved Maine to move to Pennsylvania where he joined one of his sisters and began work as a janitor, which he would stick with for the next decade. When that work became too much for his own aging body, he became a caregiver for an elderly man, Herb. As with every phase of Jim’s life, he would accumulate great stories to share about his time with Herb, which eventually had them both moving to Arizona, a state that would remain his dream location for the heat he constantly craved.
At the age of 62 Jim finally retired, spent time in California with another sister, then settled back in Arizona where he puttered around in a thrift store owned by a friend. Fixing broken donations to be sold in working condition gave him purpose for several years. Suffering a stroke in 2017, he was moved to Ohio to live with his daughter Sheri, his son in law Jim, and his grandson Aaron. He loved his role of grandpa even as he may not have embraced needing to be in Ohio. He would lament in many of his writings about the cold.
A consummate tinkerer, he relished his tools and saved every screw, nail and wood scrap to be prepared for a utilitarian approach to fixing or patching any problem. In a constant quest for information and learning, Jim cherished his atlases, dictionaries, thesauruses, mythology, and other books, most often used for crossword puzzles. He was not defined by age in his use of technology, keeping in touch with his family across the country with letters, video and audio chats, and sharing and imparting his wisdom and wit via social media.
In the end his body and mind troubled him as his spirit remained strong, and for a very brief time in the end he required the care of the amazing staff at the Life Care Center of Medina. It was only after years of tremendous love and care of Jim, Sheri and Aaron that this became necessary, and they were blessed to find a place for him close to home that would care for him as much as they had.
James was predeceased by his parents, Dora and Clarence, his brothers Clarence Tolman (Junior,) Charles Tolman and Bill Tolman, his sisters, Viola Hayden, Shirley Whitman, Patricia Reed, Betty Lou Smith, his nephews Marshall Hayden and Linwood Whitman and his niece, Sharon Smith. He is survived by his daughter Sheri (Tolman) Niedermyer, her husband Jim, and grandson Aaron, his daughter Brenda Tolman, his son Ryan Tolman, daughter-in-law Ambur, and granddaughters Lilly and Abbee, his sister, Pauline (Richard) Patterson, sister-in-law, Cynthia Tolman. Too many to name, he loved each and every one of his surviving nieces, nephews, great nieces and great nephews.
Arrangements are being handled by Waite & Son Funeral Homes in Brunswick, Ohio. The family plans a gathering in Maine later in 2023. If so inclined, in memory of Jim, the family suggests a donation to the Shriners Hospital in Springfield, Massachusetts in honor of the life-changing surgery they provided for him in his youth.
Online condolences and memories may be left for the family on Jim’s guestbook at www.WaiteFuneralHome.com