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Toale Brothers Funeral Homes & Crematory Celebrate Centennial.

Sarasota, FL, October 12, 2012 --( In 1912, Woodrow Wilson defeated incumbent William Howard Taft for President of the United States in a landslide victory; New Mexico and Arizona were admitted as states into the Union; and the Titanic ocean liner sank in the North Atlantic after colliding with an iceberg.

And in sleepy Sarasota, Florida, just a few years after the arrival of circus magnate John Ringling, the predecessor to Toale Brothers Funeral Home & Crematory opened.

Now in the hands of the Toale family, with three locations in Sarasota and Bradenton, the funeral home is celebrating its 100th anniversary.

“As far as we know, we are most likely the oldest continually running business in Sarasota,” said Jason Toale, President and CEO.

A Proud Legacy

The predecessor of Toale Brothers was founded in 1912 by George L. Thacker, Sarasota's first undertaker, who then partnered with Floyd W. Van Gilder to form the Thacker & Van Gilder Funeral Home. Originally located on Main Street, the funeral home brought to Sarasota its first hearse, which was also used as the community ambulance.

In 1948, the funeral home, which was then housed in its current location at 40 N. Orange Avenue, was purchased by brothers George and John “Jack” Toale, now deceased.

Originally from Wagener, South Carolina, George, Jack, Joe and Catherine Toale relocated to the Sarasota-Bradenton area as children in 1924 when their father entered the real estate business. Catherine was the true visionary for the business. A 1930 graduate of the Cincinnati School of Embalming, she was the first female licensed embalmer in Florida. With her encouragement, George and Jack followed suit, enrolling at the Cincinnati School of Embalming after graduating from Bradenton High School.

A Time of Expansion

A few years after purchasing the funeral home, George and Jack recognized the need for additional branch locations to serve a growing community. The first branch location opened on Bee Ridge Road, and later a second branch was established on Manatee Avenue in Bradenton (managed by brother Joe). Within a few years, the Gulf Gate Chapel and Bradenton South Chapel were constructed, and later the Crematory at the Bradenton South Chapel was built.

The Toales purchased the Wilson Chapel on Tuttle Avenue in 1973. Wes Wilson continued to manage and operate the chapel until 2004. In 1981, Toale Brothers opened a Pre-Arrangement Center next to the Orange Avenue chapel, featuring the Trust 100 Pre-Planning Program - the first in Florida.

Jack's son David, and George's sons Curtis and Robert, all licensed funeral directors and embalmers, would become the second generation to continue the family legacy, while their uncle Joe managed the Bradenton Chapel. Robert's wife, Debbie, also a licensed funeral director, was the first licensed female funeral professional to serve on the Florida Board of Funeral Directors and Embalmers.

David not only engaged in the family business, but helped to improve the industry. After a tour of duty with the Navy, David put himself through the University of South Florida and Miami Dade School of Mortuary Science. As a member of the Florida Funeral Directors Association (FFDA), he took a leadership role in Funeral Services Incorporated (FSI), which administers a full-service pre-need Master Trust in Florida. He was also instrumental in the implementation of Toale Brothers' innovative Pre-Planning Services that helped propel the funeral home into the 21st century as an industry leader. David's wife, Kathleen, served as administrator of the company's Pre-Arrangement Services, as well as executive director of Trust 100 Florida from 1982 to 2006.

The Toales credit their success to their caring and compassionate staff members, most of whom have been with the company for many years. Bob Preston, Tom Simpkins and Ben Settle, Licensed Funeral Directors, served in management positions for 25, 36 and 37 years, respectively. Myron Nickel, acting general manager, has been with Toale Brothers for 34 years and Betty Evans, who still serves as a visitation and funeral attendant, is in her 43rd year with the company.

The Legacy Continues

Today, Toale Brothers continues to thrive under the watchful eye of the third generation of Toales - Jason and Jeff, sons of Robert and Debbie.

Jason holds an MBA from Rollins College in Winter Park, and a Mortuary Science degree from St. Petersburg Community College, while Jeff holds a degree in Business and Finance from the University of South Florida, and a Mortuary Science degree from St. Petersburg Community College.

Continuing the family's commitment to community service, both Jason and Jeff are actively involved in their professional associations as well as civic organizations. They are firmly committed to continuing the company's growth, embracing the benefits of 21st century technology, while remaining true to their 20th century values of integrity, compassion and trust.

Terri Harrison contributed to the research and writing of this story.

Contact Information:

Toale Brothers Funeral Home and Crematory

Media Contact: Sheila Brannan Longo


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Geographic Code:1U5FL
Date:Oct 12, 2012
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