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Village of Lewiston Mayor Anne Welch and former Mayor Marilyn Toohey visit at Mrs. Toohey's home on Wednesday.
Village of Lewiston Mayor Anne Welch and former Mayor Marilyn Toohey visit at Mrs. Toohey's home on Wednesday.

Former Village of Lewiston Mayor Marilyn Toohey to turn 100

Fri, Jun 16th 2023 10:05 am

Submitted by the Toohey family

Marilyn Toohey is turning 100 years old on June 24.

She was born the youngest of four children of William and Ada Hoag in Warren’s Corners near Lockport. Marilyn walked daily to a two-room schoolhouse until the eighth grade. With their mother as a 4-H leader, Marilyn and her sister, Mildred, participated in club events for many years, winning county and state fair awards for their sewing and homemaking projects.

After attending Lockport High School for ninth and 10th grades, Marilyn’s family farm was sold, and the Hoag family resettled in Niagara Falls. Marilyn graduated with honors in English from Niagara Falls High School in 1940, and, after a stint at college in Westminster, Maryland, she returned to the area and completed her education at a business school. By then, the family had moved to Lewiston and she started employment as a bank clerk and teller assistant before joining a local industrial plant as an office clerk. Before long, Marilyn met and married Matt Toohey, whose family presence in Lewiston dates back to the 1850s.

After her marriage in 1943, Marilyn’s next 20 years were devoted to her husband and six children, During this time, she participated in Scouting as a den parent for a Cub Scout troop and as a Brownie Scout leader for her daughter’s troop. In the early years, she belonged to the Lewiston Fire Company No. 1 Auxiliary, and the Rosary and Altar Society of St. Peter’s R.C. Church. Until the mid-’60s, her focus remained on her family, while working only part-time at a drugstore in Lewiston. She then joined the Niagara County Clerk’s Office, where she rose to the position of deputy county clerk in charge of the New York State Department of Motor Vehicles office in Niagara Falls until her retirement.

After her husband died in 1973, Marilyn looked for something to fill the void in her life and, in 1975, was successful in a campaign for Lewiston village trustee. She became the first woman elected to office in the village. After serving briefly as interim mayor of the village, she won subsequent elections to the office and held the position for 17 years.

During her mayoralty, the village underwent two major transformative projects: the waterfront revitalization project and the initial Center Street “Streetscape” project. Together, these formed the basis for the creation of today’s vibrant and thriving village.

Citing her myriad accomplishments as mayor, the village renamed the park at the Red Brick Municipal Building as “Marilyn Toohey Park.” Today, it is the site of the new inclusive playground.

Marilyn was also active in the New York State Association of Mayors, and, at the county level, as a member and chairperson of the Niagara County Industrial Development Agency.

Keeping busy with family life, her job and her political commitment left little time for hobbies or other leisure activities. Still, she kept an interesting garden – and continues to follow her grandchildren’s lives intently.

Marilyn has enjoyed many trips with family or friends throughout the United States, the Caribbean and Europe. Now, she enjoys an occasional ride, checking familiar spots throughout the county, and reminiscing on her many fond memories.

Of her six children, four survive: sons Brian, Tim, Dennis and Kevin. Her daughters, Maureen and Colleen, are greatly missed. Numerous grandchildren and great-grandchildren are scattered from California to Massachusetts.

Marilyn still lives in her own home in the village, where she has resided for nearly 80 years.

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