Wiliam “Bill” Robert Toth came into this world on December 18, 1948, in Richmond Heights, Missouri. He lived in seven different states, and visited seven different countries. He last resided in the Greensboro, North Carolina, with his pet birds, “Birdie,” a gorgeous and vocal dove, as well as a beautiful grey cockatiel named “Alfie,” with a plethora of friends both nearby and all over the world. He changed the lives of so many students, as well as adults in his brief time here.
Many years ago, Bill was a Camp Counselor at Camp Chimney Rock, where he made quite a number of close friends, many he kept in touch with thoughout his life. His eyes would light up when he told stories of his adventures there.
Bill was a proud US Army veteran with 4 years active and 17 years ready reserve service, most of it in Special Forces. He retired in 2008, at the rank of Major, after serving in two war zones during ‘Operation Desert Storm.’ Almost 50 parachute drops (with the bad knees to show for it, and some great stories from doing so many), he commanded his own special forces A team and was the Detachment Commander in the 422nd Civil Affairs Battalion. He earned a distinguished service medal and one for “winning” the cold war.
Bill was also a teacher, mostly of middle school science and social studies, in Catholic schools as well as public, retiring from the state of North Carolina public schools in 2013, after 31 years of service. He got his undergraduate degree in Mass Communications at the University of Miami in 1971. He later received his teaching licensure from Methodist University.
While pursuing his graduate degrees in Journalism and Education from the University of Chapel Hill, Bill took a job at a small Catholic school in Burlington, NC, Blessed Sacrament School. He was the first male teacher in the history of the school. He saw the potential of a fully equipped science lab that had never before been utilized, lining up fantastic science experiments. Past students used to joke with him about how he used a literal recipe box with lined index cards on each students desk for note taking and studying. He taught students HOW to study, encouraging students to read for fun, and even took his class and several parents/siblings on a weekend field trip up in the NC mountains. Specifically to whitewater raft down the mighty Nantahala River. He incorporated not only science, but geography, history, physics, physical fitness, and math into that trip, as well as teamwork and leadership skills. He was also known for zipping around town in his beloved candy apple red Mazda RX7 sports car.
After leaving BSS, he taught in another Catholic school a few years, then in public schools in Alamance County (Graham Middle School and Western Alamance Middle School) and a brief time in a middle school in Guilford County. Lastly, he taught at Rockingham County Middle School (RCMS), in Reidsville. He truly loved teaching there for years, and where he was when he retired.
Bill just wasn’t the kind of person to sit and do nothing. He was an avid kayaker (whitewater, rivers, lakes), loved to travel, loved to read, but after retiring, he realized he was truly missing teaching. So he took a one year contract to teach in Florida, finished it out, and came home. Shortly after, he became ‘THE’ go-to person for when RCMS needed a substitute teacher. Not only did the faculty & staff want him back, the students asked for him. A quote of Bill’s, “Being an educator was a mission for me, not a job.”
He was a social activist, and did not shy about discussing current issues, supporting teachers, or having supported the Presidential campaign of Senator Bernie Sanders and the Presidency of Barak Obama.
He was always watching or reading the news, to stay on top of things, politics being one of the main issues. A quick look at his Facebook page (on which he was very active) or even at the bumper stickers on the rear of his Mazda MX-5 (folks still refer to them as Miatas), and you’d know where he stood on issues. He liked to tell people “I don’t have much tolerance for stupid. Stupid can hurt. It can kill.”
Something not enough people knew, was that he was a published author. His publications include: ‘The Well Behaved Seldom Make History,’ in May of 2016, ‘Reflections of A Recovering Catholic,’ released in the beginning of September, 2016, and most recently a second edition of ‘A Guide to a Second American Revolution,’ he released mid-August of 2018. All available through Amazon. He had been working on his first novel, in the military/thriller genres, akin to the fabulous Tom Clancy classics. He also had many of his Letters to the Editor published in the Greensboro News & Record.
Bill also was a lifelong NASA fanatic, even going through the adult version of Space Camp several times, and being nearby whenever a shuttle was being launched at Cape Canaveral.
He was preceded in death by the love of his life, his wife, Missy.
It was at Rockingham County Middle School, while preparing to substitute for the day, he suffered a massive stroke. Fortunately, the school was within 5 minutes from Cone Health’s Annie Penn Hospital. He stayed there for a couple of weeks, was transferred to Moses Cone in Greensboro, and then to Duke Regional Hospital. He passed away from complications due to the stroke on Sunday night, July, 7, at 8p, with Natasha and John by his side.
A Celebration of Bill’s life will be held at 1:00 PM on Wednesday August 14, 2019 at the McClure Funeral Home Chapel in Graham. Officiating will be Funeral Director and past student of Bill’s, John Bascom Harrington. Natasha R. Euliss-Uftring & John Uftring will receive friends at McClure Funeral Home in Graham after the service.
Memorials may be made to Whole Vet in Bill’s name: http://www.wholevet.org/donate.html
Whole Vet provides veterans, transitioning service members, National Guard and Reserve members, and their families with the tools, resources, and support to have a great civilian career and life. We know that a time of transition can seem daunting. Any time of change in life can seem daunting. We are putting in place programs to help ‘Build Lives Together’