Kenneth R. Toole, age 82, of Bristol, Rhode Island, passed away peacefully surrounded by family on Sunday, May 14, 2023.
Born in Providence, RI, he was the son of the late Ralph and Charlotte Toole. Ken grew up in Cranston, RI and Haddonfield, NJ. On September 1, 1962, he married the late Janet L. Toole. Together, they moved to Lansing, Michigan where Ken pursued his post-graduate degree.
An inquisitive and enthusiastic learner, Ken was a graduate of Rutgers University and also earned a Master of Urban Planning from Michigan State University. Upon completion of graduate school, Ken and Jan settled in Staatsburg, NY where they raised three children.
Ken’s professional journey began with the Dutchess County Planning Board, for which he ultimately served as Commissioner of Planning. He left the Planning Board after nearly twenty impactful years, to pursue his joy and passion through a more private, and immensely fulfilling position in the field of historic preservation. This allowed Ken to combine his love for the Hudson River Valley with his desire to preserve the culture, scenery and history of the region. His dedication to this cause was remarkable, and the positive impact of his efforts can still be seen today.
Ken served on many Boards, working cooperatively and collaboratively to pursue favorable outcomes for the Hudson Valley and its residents. One of his greatest accomplishments was executing a successful campaign to save Eleanor Roosevelt’s Val-Kill estate, establishing her summer home and gardens as a national historic site and ensuring that her legacy be enjoyed by generations to come Ken also spearheaded the redevelopment of Stewart Air Force Base in Newburgh, NY in order to accommodate a domestic airport, serving the region and the state.
Upon retiring in 2001 to Brewster, MA, Ken enjoyed working in his yard, where he took immense pride in his landscape designs, dedicating tireless hours to perfect. His love for planting and landscape led him to a part time job at Crocker Nurseries, where he enjoyed sharing his knowledge and green thumb with anyone seeking suggestions or guidance. Ken thrived on these interactions and helping his fellow gardeners.
Retirement also offered Ken and Jan the opportunity to spend many wonderful times with family and friends, as they gathered to enjoy special occasions and social events, marked with laughter. The Cape also meant time for rest and relaxation and many fond memories made, including with his numerous grandchildren, whom he adored. While Ken will be missed dearly, what will be missed the most is his vast knowledge, and the combination of his quick wit and sense of humor regardless of the situation. We will also miss Ken’s passion to make the world, especially his beloved Hudson Valley, a better place for all to enjoy.
Ken is survived by his three grown children, Linda Erickson of Newport, RI, Jeffrey Toole (his wife, Vicki) of Naples, ME and Jennifer Firlings (her husband, Carl) of Middletown, RI and his seven grandchildren, Nathaniel Cornman, Samantha Cornman, Alexandra Firlings, Carl Firlings III, Kenny Firlings, Olivia Toole and Brooke Toole. He is predeceased by his wife of 59 years, Janet Toole and his brother, Allen Toole.
Services for Ken will be held at a later date.
In lieu of flowers, a donation can be made in Ken’s name to:
Dawn Hill Home for Rehab and Healthcare
ATTN: Activities Department
1 Dawn Hill Rd.
Bristol, RI 02809