Jimmie Toal, 78, devoted to family

December 26, 2005

Jimmie Sue Spencer Toal, who brought joy to her family each Christmas through an elaborate treasure hunt, was killed Dec. 19 in a traffic accident on U.S. 1 in Harford County. The Kingsville resident was 78.

Each year, Mrs. Toal would create the treasure hunt at the annual Christmas Eve gathering she hosted in her home. She would salt the house with clues leading to an envelope filled with cash.

Having already written the clues for this year's hunt, she was returning from the bank with the cash when she was killed. On Christmas Eve, the day after her funeral, children and grandchildren gathered at her home and drank a champagne toast in her honor.

"To the end, she was doing something for someone else," said her son Thaddeus Norman Toal of Annapolis. "She was very energetic, very caring and very giving."

Born Jimmie Sue Spencer in Sheffield, Ala., and raised by her widowed father, James Forrest Spencer, in Burnsville, Miss., she left high school to work in factories during World War II.

She worked first on B-25 bombers at the General Motors Fisher Body Plant in Memphis, Tenn. Later in the war, she was a vacuum tester and line recorder at Union Carbide's K-25 plant in Oak Ridge, Tenn., which created enriched uranium for use in the atomic bomb.

It was at K-25 that she met Robert L. Toal Sr. They married in 1946 and moved to Baltimore in 1954 and to Bel Air in 1984.

After the war, Mrs. Toal completed her General Educational Development diploma.

"She always said that you come into this world with one thing - your name - and you leave with one thing - your name," said her daughter, Regina Marie Toal of Abingdon. "People will know you by your abilities, your reputation, how you treated others."

Thaddeus Toal described his mother as a gifted cook specializing in such Southern dishes as bean soup, banana pudding, and biscuits and gravy. She remained devoted to her family through the lung cancer that was first diagnosed four years ago, and the two heart attacks, bypass surgery and breathing difficulties, he said.

"Her purpose in life became she wanted to outlive our father so she could take care of him," Mr. Toal said. "She didn't want him to become a burden on the children, and she didn't want to become a burden herself. ... She wanted to be independent as long as she could."

She was a communicant at the Roman Catholic Church of St. Mark in Fallston. She enjoyed gardening and playing bridge with her Thursday club.

Services have been held.

In addition to her husband, daughter and son, Mrs. Toal is survived by another son, Robert L. Toal Jr. of Dulaney Valley; a half-sister, Kathy Underwood of Tupelo, Miss.; a half-brother, Gene Lowery; five grandchildren; and four great grandchildren.

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