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Gene Harold Tolley

Gene Harold Tolley
Madison, Mississippi

Gene H. Tolley passed away in his sleep during the early morning hours on Sunday, November 23, 2014, at Mississippi Baptist Hospital.

Gene was born February 25, 1925 in the coal fields of Winding Gulf, West Virginia to Charles Preston Tolley and Retha Irene Hankla. He graduated from Graham High School, Bluefield, Virginia, in 1942. Shortly before his 18th birthday, Gene joined the U.S. Marine Corps, serving as an aircraft crew chief for three years in the South Pacific during World War II. Upon returning from the war, Gene earned his BS degree from East Tennessee State University in 1949, lettering in football and basketball. He still holds the ETSU record in football for longest pass play from the line of scrimmage. Gene continued with his education and received a MA degree from George Peabody College (now Vanderbilt University) in 1950.

Gene worked for the Boy Scouts of America his whole career, starting in 1950 in Nashville, Tennessee and retired in 1987 after serving as Scout Executive of the Andrew Jackson Council in Jackson, Mississippi for 27 years. Gene raised the funds and built the current Andrew Jackson Council Boy Scout office on Riverside Drive in Jackson and Hood Scout Reservation outside of Hazlehurst. Lake Gene H. Tolley at Hood Scout Reservation was named in his honor.

Gene was a member of Trinity Presbyterian Church, American Legion Post 12, and the Rotary Club of Jackson for more than 50 years, serving as sergeant-at-arms for 14 years and was also named a Paul Harris Fellow. Gene also was selected to participate in the October 2013 Gulf Coast Honor Flight for WWII veterans. These participants of the honor flight were quite newsworthy due to breaking through the barricade at the WWII memorial during the government shut-down.

Gene loved to laugh and never met a stranger. He could fix anything! Gene was an avid dove and duck hunter. He enjoyed boating for more than 50 years on Old Hickory Lake (Nashville, TN), the Barnett Reservoir and Flag Island on the upper Pearl River (Jackson, MS), the Intracoastal Waterway and Mississippi Gulf Coast Islands, making new friends all along the water.

Gene is survived by his wife of 65 years, Mary Meredith Long Tolley, four children Marilyn Rose (Phil), Preston Tolley (Valerie), Liz Michaels (Ron) and Sara Ellison (Dave), six grandchildren, Christina Rose (Andrew Egerton), Brian Rose, Banks Tolley, Tolley Yoste, Daniel Ellison and Derek Ellison. He is also survived by his brother, E. H. Thompson of Akron, Ohio.

Per Gene’s longstanding wishes, his body was donated to the University of Mississippi Medical Center. In lieu of flowers, memorials may be made to the Andrew Jackson Council of the Boy Scouts of America, 855 Riverside Drive, Jackson, Mississippi.