Cover photo for Steven Leonard Toy's Obituary
Steven Leonard Toy Profile Photo
1949 Steven 2008

Steven Leonard Toy

January 31, 1949 — May 31, 2008

Our much-loved husband, dad, grandpa and brother, Steven Leonard Toy, 59, of Shelley, Idaho, died Saturday, May 31, of complications associated with pneumonia.  

Steve was second of George and Annette Toy’s four sons. He was born January 31, 1949, in Brooklyn, New York. At an early age his parents taught him, by example, the virtues of hard work and devotion to family. As a boy he attended Hebrew school and experienced much of the city life, including Broadway shows, Coney Island and Sunday dinners in Chinatown. He grew to love the theater and looked for every opportunity to be part of an audience. In fact, he worked his first job, writing reviews, without pay in exchange for free show tickets – a hobby he continued for the rest of his life. This experience helped him discover his natural writing ability and shaped the next phase of his life.  

After a cross-country move in high school, Steve graduated from Las Vegas High where he met his first true love, Vickie Louise Jolley. Together they went to University of Nevada-Las Vegas, where they both studied journalism. Steve was baptized and confirmed a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints on July 19, 1968, a heartfelt and thoughtful decision that changed the course of his life.  

The inseparable couple then moved to Reno, Nevada to continue their schooling at the University of Nevada-Reno. Steve and Vickie were married on June 28, 1969 in the Jolley family’s backyard. They were sealed in the St. George LDS Temple three days later on July 1, 1969. They returned to Reno to finish school, build their first home and start a family. He became the first college graduate in Toy family history.  

In Reno, Steve took positions as a reporter and entertainment editor at the Reno Evening Gazette. From there he went on to work as a music editor at Daily Variety in Hollywood, Calif. He fondly reflected on experiences from that time including attending the Academy Awards and hobnobbing with many interesting celebrities of the day.  

As his family grew, Steve longed for a career that was more conducive to family life. He believed in the power of education and was committed to continuing to learn to meet his goals. To accomplish this, Steve moved his young family to Los Angeles, Calif. He returned to school in the evenings, attending California State University, where he earned his master’s degree in educational administration in 1978. He began teaching English at an inner-city junior high school where, again, Steve found a natural fit that used his writing skills and also allowed him to work with young people.  

He had the energy of a teenager, as illustrated by the part-time night job he worked at Disneyland operating the Jungle Cruise and Tiki Room attractions. He loved youth and, in addition to his family and work responsibilities, extended his circle of involvement by teaching early-morning seminary in Los Angeles. He was committed to forming meaningful, lifelong relationships with his school and seminary students and made them a part of his family and home life. Steve’s students often joined the Toys for meals, outings and, because of his approachable nature, came to him for support and direction with personal struggles. These experiences led him to later take a one-year hiatus from public schools to become the principal of a high-school seminary program in California.  

For years, Steve worked multiple jobs, beginning at 5:30 each morning and extending into the evenings, to provide for his expanding family. His career continued to grow as Steve obtained positions as a high school principal in Johnsondale, Calif., and Superintendent of Schools in both Otis and Lone Star, Colo. Being far removed from Broadway, Steve brought a taste of New York to the wheat fields of eastern Colorado producing, directing and starring in community theatre productions – the favorite of which were Woody Allen revivals.  

Steve continually strived to keep his professional life in balance with Church and family, so it was no surprise that his wife and children were regularly by his side on many local and cross-country business trips.  

When Steve decided to pursue his Ed.D, it required him to travel two and a half hours each direction to Boulder in the evenings after work. In later years, he commented that Burger King Whoppers and Diet Coke were the fuel for those long drives. For two consecutive summers, his already large family joined him in the tight quarters of married student housing in Boulder. He graduated with a doctorate in administration from the University of Colorado-Boulder in 1984 after less than two years of attending school in the off-hours from his full-time job.  

Later that year, his educational career and devotion to family culminated in Shelley, Idaho, an unlikely spot for a city boy. At the age of 35, he accepted the position of superintendent of schools. There the last of Steve’s eight children was born, completing the large family he and Vickie had dreamed of.  

He never let go of his love for journalism and after working full days at school district, he would go to the then-NBC affiliate station, KIFI Channel 8, in Idaho Falls where he would broadcast movie reviews as part of the evening news. He also kept his writing skills sharp by freelancing for the Post-Register and Shelley Pioneer.  

In 1987, his wife of 19 years was killed in a tragic car accident. Two years later, Steve resigned from his post as superintendent in an effort to care for his youngest children and focus on his health. This was the same year he unexpectedly met and married another amazing woman and his second true love, Elizabeth Bryant. They were married in the Idaho Falls LDS Temple on August 3, 1989.  

Steve and Elizabeth successfully blended their families to make one cohesive family of 14. They were proud of this accomplishment and even more proud as they watched their children graduate from high school, serve missions for the LDS Church, attend college, marry and have families of their own.  

After years of battling depression, Steve was in a very good space at the time of his death. He was enjoying strong relationships with his family daily phone calls, letters and packages – never missing any birthday, anniversary or other significant occasion of his children, in-laws, grandchildren and close friends. And while his family and friends could expect a package on those special days, finding a random “no reason” package in the mailbox on any day was also a trademark. He made getting the mail fun!  

Neighbors have recounted many seemingly incidental acknowledgments Steve made of their needs and efforts he showed to support them. He also spent much of his time working on projects ranging from freelance writing, blogging and taking college courses. He loved listening to music (loudly…ask the neighbors), was an avid reader (choosing Lasik surgery to correct his far-sightedness rather than near-sightedness), finding opportunities to serve (as a temple worker), going on dates with his wife and faithfully visiting all his grandchildren (making plans months in advance) who are scattered across the country from Washington to Florida. He was happy!  

Steve will be exceedingly missed by his wife, Elizabeth; eight children: Melisa (Blake) Holmes, Shayndel (Ryan) Smith, David (Joanna) Toy, Sarah (Travis) Dean, Tim (Nancy) Toy, Josh (Miriam) Toy, Emily (Bryan) Buckley and Miriam (Ryan) Jenson; four step children: Liza (Mark) Evans, Chris (Eve) Bryant, Kim Bryant and Tolman (Audrey) Bryant; 19 grandchildren: Jonathon, Allison, Grace, Zachary, Jude, Cache, Saveyah, Levi, Jonah, Mason, Shepard, Sydney, Lucy, Gabriel, Eleanore, Milly, Major, Macy, Severin; three brothers Rick Toy, Paul Towman and Brad Toy; mother-in-law, Eleanore Jolley and many others. He was preceded in death by his wife, Vickie, his stepson Doug, his parents and father-in-law Victor Jolley.  

Funeral services will be at 11 a.m., Wednesday, June 4, 2008, at the Shelley 4th Ward Chapel (184 North Park) with Bishop Dennis Crofts conducting. The family will receive friends on Tuesday, June 3, from 7-8:30 p.m. at the Nalder Funeral Home (110 West Oak) and Wednesday 10-10:40 a.m. at the church. Interment will be at the Shelley Hillcrest Cemetery.

To order memorial trees or send flowers to the family in memory of Steven Leonard Toy, please visit our flower store.


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