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Wednesday, February 15, 2023 | 4:00 p.m. - 8:00 p.m.

Howell Funeral Home | 10220 Guilford Road | Jessup, MD 20794


Thursday, February 16, 2023 |Wake: 10:00 a.m. | Service: 11:00 a.m. |

Church of Nativity | Washington, D.C.


Cheltenham Veteran's Cemetery | 11301 Crain Highway | Cheltenham, MD 20623

Memorial Contributions

Monetary donations may be directed in Shirley Toye's memory to

Marine Toys for Tots, Anacostia - Washington. D.C.


Shirley Constance (Gaither) Toye, was the fourth of fifteen children of the late Thelma Constance (Wallace) Gaither and Reginald Arvilla Gaither, born at her family home on the Gaither Farm in Severn, Maryland, on July 7, 1930. After a short illness while in the care of Autumn Lake at Oak Manor located in Burtonsville, Maryland, she was called home by our Heavenly Father on Friday, January 27, 2023.

Shirley received her formal education in Anne Arundel County, Maryland, graduating from Wiley H. Bates High School in 1948. She furthered her formal education by attending the State Teachers College located at Bowie, Maryland, graduating in 1952, with a B.A. in Elementary Education. Upon receiving her college degree, Shirley pursued a teaching career in Special Education and Core curriculum, enhancing student’s math, reading and writing skills at her high school alma mater, Wiley H. Bates High School, Annapolis, Maryland, during the time period from 1952-1963. In later years through the 60’s and 70’s she was a substitute teacher in the D.C. Public schools, continuing her joy of teaching.

While attending State Teachers College, she met Thomas Melvin Toye, whom she later married in March 28, 1953. From this union came a daughter, Nerissa Johnson, and two sons, Thomas Melvin Toye, Jr., and Mark Leroy Toye. Shirley was a loving and devoted mother and wife who promoted education as an avenue for success to her family.

Melvin and Shirley were faithful members of Nativity Catholic Church located in Washington, D.C. where their children received their early education. Shirley maintained that relationship with Nativity until her passing.

Shirley had a full life with an abundance of love for and from her large family and many friends. She displayed an early talent for teaching when she “played teacher” with her siblings growing up, turning learning into a game. They have many fond memories of her “classes”. She loved family gatherings and reunions and keeping up with the accomplishments of nieces, nephews and grandchildren. Shirley and Melvin enjoyed taking road trips across the country during summer breaks with the children. They visited family and friends, and always included historic landmarks and educational exhibits in the travels. Many summers came to a close with a final trip to Atlantic City, NJ, where the family had a fun time before starting the next school year. In recent years, Shirley looked forward to “The Girl’s Week at the Beach”. It became an annual affair with her daughter, Nerissa, as the chauffer, taking her and always two additional sisters to Ocean City, Md. She loved exploring historic sites, charming little towns, art galleries, and eating fantastic meals, especially crab cakes. Standing on the hotel or condo balcony looking at ocean waves and folks on the beach and boardwalk gave her great joy. These trips included a lot of shopping along the way.

Shirley enjoyed being a “senior citizen”! The Fort Stevens Senior Center became her favorite place for all types of activities: ceramic and sewing classes, book club, exercise and trips to sites in D.C. and out of state. Most of all she loved the people she met there who became her fast friends and companions. Having a passion for history and documentaries, Shirley was an avid reader and collector of local history. Just recently she was an eager participant to document the story of the Severn Rosenwald school, a project to preserve and protect historical African American sites.

Shirley was preceded in death by her husband Thomas M. Toye; son Thomas M. Toye Jr.; sisters: Daisy Jones, Evelyn Johnson, Muriel Galloway and May Armstead; brothers: Eolus Gaither, Dwight Gaither, Henry Gaither, and Reginald Gaither, Jr.; and granddaughter, Samantha Johnson. To hold her in dear memory are: her daughter, Nerissa Johnson (Courtney) and her son, Mark Toye (Glendie); three grandchildren: Ebonie Toye, Corey Toye, Christopher Johnson (Sara); one great-granddaughter: Trinity President; three great-grandsons: Triston Toye, Jontomas Toye, and Zachary Johnson; three sisters: Marva Gaither, Thelma Gaither, and June Deshields; three brothers: Eugene Gaither, Alfred Gaither (Frances), and Harrison Gaither (Brenda); and sister-in-law, Ann Toye. She is also survived by a host of nieces, nephews, other relatives and many kind neighbors and dear friends at Fort Stevens. She will be greatly missed by all who knew and loved her.

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