NOKOMIS -- Ms. Linda Gay Tooley (Guccione), 77, passed from this life on Friday, June 7, 2019, in Gulfport, Mississippi. Left to cherish their memories and mourn her passing are her devoted husband of 56 years, Dr. Samuel Anthony Guccione, Ed.D., of Biloxi, Mississippi; her daughter, Diane Michelle (Steve) VanMinsel, one of her two favorite grandsons, Josh, of Shalimar, Florida; her great-granddaughter, Natalie; daughter, Christine Marie (David) Peek, and one of her two favorite grandsons, Jacob, of Irving, Texas; her sister, B.J. Tooley, of Nokomis, Illinois; brothers-in-law, John Guccione and wife Lois of Godfrey, Illinois, and Tom Guccione, of Wood River, Illinois. She is preceded in death by her parents and a sibling, who died shortly after birth.
Ms. Tooley was born on Friday, February 13, 1942, in Newark, Ohio, to Faye VaNisle and Rosemary Alice (Weir) Tooley. She married one of the most patient, wise, and kind gentlemen in the world, her darling husband, Sam, on April 1, 1963. A running joke with her was that she was born on Friday the 13th and was married on April Fool's Day. She was quite the character. Sam and Linda Gay enjoyed 56 years of marriage, honoring their vows to love each other through good times and bad times, in sickness and health, until her death parted them.
She graduated from Urbana High School in Urbana, Illinois, and held an A.A.S in Human Services, a B.A. in Behavioral Science, and a M.A. in Psychology. She worked for the State of Delaware over 20 years in many roles, most notably in the Department of Services for Children, Youth, and their Families.
At the time of her passing, Mom was a proud member of the Gulf Coast Chapter of the Daughters of the American Revolution (MSSDAR), and at First United Methodist Church of Gulfport, or First Church as she and Dad lovingly called it.
Mom wanted to be unique, and each decision she made or did not make throughout her life reflected that. She was very independent in many ways, with a strong sense of purpose. She loved animals and children, Law & Order, Dancing with the Stars, People Magazine, the Kennedy's, any Royal Family, Diet Coke with Lime, McDonald's French fries, peel and eat shrimp, saltwater taffy, word search puzzles, and tennis, particularly Wimbledon. Roger Ebert (of Siskel & Ebert) was a fellow student in her high school graduating class, and she never failed to drop his name wherever she could.
Her favorite color was purple. The last car she owned, she picked out and bought herself and you can just guess what color it was! She loved to read and collect everything (even menus from every restaurant where she had dined). Going to the beach with her daughters following a sunrise service at the Methodist church in Dover, Delaware, was a highlight of the girls' teen years. The beach was one of the attractions that led her and Dad to Gulfport, and could she have walked barefoot on the beach and taken a little dip in the ocean one last time, that would have been her wish.
In recent years, Mom and Dad were privileged to meet Clint Hill, who is best known for his notable act of bravery while in the presidential motorcade on November 22, 1963, when President John F. Kenney was assassinated, shielding Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis and the president with his body as the car traveled to Parkland Memorial Hospital. This was a highly anticipated trip for her.
Mom loved to bake, cookies especially. She would make 6 (or 16) dozen of each cookie she desired. The kitchen was covered in flour, but she was happy with her cookies. She gave some away, but there was always a surplus in her house.
Over the last year, there was a transition, where Mom had to take on the role of household manager. Dad was Mom's caregiver prior to that, retiring from Eastern Illinois University to take care of Mom full-time. In this new role, Mom managed every aspect with her spirited moxie. She managed day to day operations; their legal, financial, and medical affairs; the sale of their home and all of their remaining possessions; their doctors' appointments; and social outings. She was often overwhelmed, but handled every detail flawlessly and to absolute completion. We couldn't say “Atta girl” enough, for all she did to manage their affairs.
At the time of her passing, she was a resident at Brookdale Senior Living in Biloxi, Mississippi. She suffered with many health issues during her time living at Brookdale, yet the staff always responded to her with kindness and patience. The family wishes to extend their utmost gratitude to the entire staff at Brookdale Biloxi, as well as the following for their care and kindness expressed to Mom. Some knew her for the time she lived in Gulfport; some only knew her in the last week of her life. We are grateful to the Memorial Hospital at Gulfport ER Staff, 5th Floor D Wing Nurses, and Case Managers Melody Griffith and Pam McIntire; and Sandra Matthews, N.P.; and special friends Pat and Jeanette Smith, Jerry and Lynn Young, and Patti Stedman of Gulfport, MS.
On Friday, June 14, 2019, the family will receive and welcome friends at 10:00 am, with a funeral directly following at 11:00 am at First United Methodist Church of Gulfport, 2301 15th Street, Gulfport, Mississippi 39501. Casual dress is welcome, and if you have something purple to wear, we encourage you to wear it! Suggested donations include the Gulf Coast Chapter of the DAR or First United Methodist Church of Gulfport. Bradford-O'Keefe Funeral Home, 15th Street Chapel, Gulfport is in charge of arrangements. View and sign register book at www.bradford-o'keefe.com.
Though we will miss you, we are truly grateful that you no longer suffer with pain. May you rest in peace.