ADAMSTOWN, MD.—Shirley Marie Toleman Disney, born on April 29, 1923, passed away at her home in Adamstown, Md., on February 28, 2020.
She was born in Baltimore, Md., to Ira Joseph Toleman and Blanche Tolley. She grew up in Ocran with three sisters and a brother, where her father was an engineer on fishing boats that plied the Chesapeake Bay.
Some of these years were during the Great Depression and her memories were of the struggles of a family living with few material possessions. She spoke of having one pair of shoes a year, handed down from her older sister and the soles repaired by her father. She had dresses made of flour sacks, and the special ones had flower designs on them. Her mother sold eggs to the community from the chickens they raised. In the summers, lunch consisted of tomatoes and clabbers from soured milk, and for the rest of her life she refused to eat yogurt.
There were good memories, too, of playing along the shores with her siblings, hunting for shells and saying rhymes to periwinkle snails. They played house pretending Queen Anne’s lace were fried eggs and cattails were hot dogs. Her grandfather would give them penny candy from his little store in White Stone.
Her Christian spiritual life was established early by the attendance at the little Methodist church in White Stone.
When she was nine years old, her mother died in childbirth. The siblings were separated and cared for by relatives until her father re-married and secured a job in Washington, D.C., as an engineer. All the children were reunited with the exception of the youngest daughter, who remained with her mother’s sister but was always close to the family. Another sister was born of the second marriage.
In 1942, Shirley met her husband, Alfred L. Disney, and lived in Maryland and raised two sons and a daughter. Al, also from a family of five other siblings, a family man and an automobile mechanic by trade, had a sense of adventure which led them to relocate in Texas during the 1950s. Shirley faithfully tagged along as he secured another job as a mechanic but also became a race car driver. They bought property in Texas as an investment but eventually, the need for family called them back to Maryland, where they built their own house, followed the racing circuit, owned and operated a “snack truck,” bought and renovated houses for resale and eventually bought a winter home in Georgia. They traveled the country and made at least nine trips across the U.S. to the west, visiting friends and family while taking in the awesome beauty of the country along the way. Al was the driver and Shirley was the navigator.
They purchased property on the Chesapeake Bay in Ocran and eventually built a home on Shirley’s beloved “Bay,” where they eventually settled full time until 2011, when they were unable to live there alone in their sunset years. They were offered residence with their granddaughter and her husband, Bridgette and Matthew Ernest, in Adamstown, where Alfred soon passed away after a brief illness and Shirley continued to be lovingly cared for until her passing.
Shirley is predeceased in death by her husband, parents and stepmother; and all of her siblings except her youngest sister, Nita Beeson of Bethel Park, Pa.
She also is survived by her son and daughter-in-law, Alfred L. and Mariann Disney of Kilmarnock; her daughter and son-in-law, Carol M. and David L. Darick of Silver Spring, Md.; and her son and daughter-in-law, Ronald W. and Jeannine Disney of Fayetteville, Ga.
She also is predeceased by one grandchild, Morgan; and survived by five grandchildren, Laura Anderson and her husband, Lloyd, Bryan Young and his wife, Wendy, Bridgette Ernest and her husband, Matthew, Danielle Darick and Alison Disney. She has five great-grandchildren, Eric Anderson and his wife, Kiley, Megan Morris and her husband, Phillip, Dylan Anderson, Ryan Young and Hannah Young. She has one great-great-granddaughter, Ayla.
The family thanks everyone for their love, prayers and support over the past months. They request, in lieu of flowers, donations may be made to Frederick Health Hospice, 516 Trail Avenue, PO Box 1799, Frederick, MD 21702, or online at the website for Frederick Health Hospice.