Shout out to Jim Tolley

While I was an LDS missionary I served for a few months in Vermont. During that time I met a great guy name of James Tolley. Jim was probably in his 30s at the time. I can still recall sitting in his living room, I think the Tolleys lived in or near Essex Junction, but I’m not completely sure. That may have been where he worked. He and his lovely wife were very kind to us and more frequently than we deserved had us up for dinner on Sundays. Jim introduced me to Orson Pratt and that alone made a difference in my life. Jim’s wife, I’m ashamed to say that I don’t recall her name (we wouldn’t have used her first name anyway – Sister Tolley), was a flight attendant (stewardess in those days) for one of the big airlines of the day, it may have been TWA. She was a stunning brunette. I only say that because as a young missionary, it was a little hard not to stare. Jim was an employee of IBM at the time, and a very sharp but modest guy. You never know of people’s private lives and thoughts, but I always thought of Jim as kind of the ideal to shoot for. I always hoped that he would get everything good in life.

In any case, Jim had the distinction of being one of the first two missionaries to serve in Palestine in modern times, having been called to the exotic “International Mission.” I saw pictures of Jim and the friends he made in the Middle East. The missionaries were under restrictions that made it impossible to baptize members there, for a number of reasons. Politically it may have been difficult, but the Church instituted the restrictions mostly because it seemed very difficult to establish a viable presence there perhaps. Jim talked about his frustrations in that regard, having people who took up the standard of Mormonism there, but who he could not confirm into the faith. I think Jim showed me some pictures from that experience that had appeared in the Church news in the 50s I think? I’ve been trying to locate the Jim I knew, but I haven’t found him. Jim and his wife had no children at the time and it may have been impossible, I don’t really know. But if you knew Jim, or perhaps know him, I’d like to get in touch with him again. He was a great guy and I would like to catch up. Brother and Sister Tolley, we loved you.

7 Responses to Shout out to Jim Tolley

  1. Justin says:

    Have you tried finding him on (using Vermont as the location)? (see page 4 for a reference to a retired IBM engineer named Jim Tolley)

  2. Justin says:

    Have you tried looking for him using (using Vermont as the location)?

  3. fthoma says:

    Jim was my office-mate at IBM for a while, and he shared stories about his stay in Lebanon. The most memorable was the fact that his apartment was in a high-rise above a bank in Beirut, and his religeous opposition managed to clog the sewage disposal line just below his apartment, so all the twelve stories or more above him dumped their raw sewage into his apartment. Another story was a description of his welcoming dinner, where the host kept uncovering the sheep’s eyeballs buried in the rice so he could take care of the treat, all the time while he was actively trying to bury them into the bulk of the treat so he would not have to confront crunching down on the orbs. He had great stories of his childhood in the Eastern Shore in Cambridge, Maryland. He built an un-powered Bell Gyrocopter that he tethered to the ground with a couple hundred feet of rope and stayed aloft in the shore breeze for hours on end. He had a story about when Stokely Carmichael blew up the Cambridge courthouse. His parents salvaged a single brick and presented him with it for Christmas with the admonition to “Always remember”. A memorable individual.

    • Jim Tolley says:

      Hi Nandor….or Frank. Most of your recollection is accurate, which is better than most of us.
      Yep, still living in Vermont. Retired from IBM 10 years ago, then worked for the state of Vermont as the Deputy Secretary of Transportation for 5 years. Then retired again.
      Mafi and I have 3 children, who range from 36 to 44.
      I recall those days well when we worked in Test Equip Eng…at the A&P.

  4. fthoma says:

    Not a Bell gyrocopter but a Benson gyrocopter. Mechanix Illustrated used to have these tiny 1 inch by 2 inch adds offering plans for a tiny sum.

    If you locate Jim, please let me know his email so I can give my own “shout out” to him.

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