Red Lodge lost a man who moved to our town and began immediately making a difference. John L. Toler was a moving force on the Beartooth Hospital board , serving from 2003 to 2011(2008-2010 as chair), very active in the revitalization of our local Elks Lodge, serving as Steward and serving on the Red Lodge Planning Board from 2004 to 2009. There are not many of John’s type left. To say he will be missed seems a little trite but John left his imprint on our small corner of Montana and for those of who knew him this is a sad day.
It is Montana that is diminished by John’s passing. John Love Toler passed to his last post on May 17, 2013. John was born on Dec. 7, 1942 to Robert and Mary Toler in St. Louis, Mo. He was educated in New York and attended William & Mary College and Babson College. John enlisted in the U.S. Army in 1965, attended Officer Candidate School and began his combat service in Viet Nam. He was a Forward Observer with the 1st Battalion, 77th Field Artillery Regiment attached to the First Air Cavalry. John completed his Viet Nam tour with single minded dedication and courage, coming home with three Purple Hearts, a Bronze Star and a Silver Star. John enjoyed sharing his military experiences with his family.
They all went to Viet Nam and visited those places where John earned his honors many years ago. John was also a military historian and enjoyed trips with his family to the beaches of Normandy and other military sites. After Viet Nam John settled in St. Charles, Mo., and met Judy. John and Judy were married on Feb. 7, 1970. John worked for Hallmark Cards from 1969 to 1976. John along with this brother James built a Manufacturer ’s Representative business based in Chicago. John and Judy raised their children in Spring Grove, Ill., where John served on the governing board of Spring Grove from 1983-1985 then as Village President from 1985-1995.
He also served on the Northern Illinois Medical Center Board from 1989 to 1995, chair from 1993-1995. Much to Montana’s benefit the Tolers moved to Red Lodge and opened the 1902 Emporium and the Red Lodge Flower Shop. John also worked as a business consultant for various local businesses. John is survived by his three much loved children: John Love Toler (Brittany) of Virginia, Jeffery Alan Toler (Sharon) of Colorado and Leslie Kraak Johnson (Andrew) of Wisconsin.
John spoke often and lovingly about his six grandchildren: Jacob James, Lily Cathleen, Zackary Love, Aurelia Kraak, John Love III and Grant Snow. Besides his wife, Judy, he is also survived by a sister Jeanne Toler Suthoff of Missouri. He was preceded in death by his parents Robert and Mary and a brother James. Internment will be at Arlington National Cemetery in Arlington, Va., with full military honors this summer. In lieu of flowers, donations to Operation Second Chance Wounded Warrior Retreat in Red Lodge, P.O.1303, Red Lodge, Montana 59068 A Memorial gathering will be held at the Elks Lodge in Red Lodge, Friday June 21, 2013, from 7 p.m. - 9 p.m.