Bill Toole was a dedicated teacher, guide and administrator of the Austin Waldorf School for 35 years. His careful, measured manner was spiced with a quick wit and observant sense of humor. Born in Fall River, Massachusetts on September 14, 1951, his love of nature emerged on patches of undeveloped land despite his urban surroundings. Still, science was his first love and he became a ham radio operator in his early teens, studying electricity and setting up equipment in his basement with the help of his father. By high school, he discovered the world of literature along with his own facility with language that he used throughout his career, writing articles for Renewal Magazine, plays and poetry for his classes, and countless correspondence letters for AWS. He entered the University of Massachusetts, Amherst, as an engineering major, but soon worried that a one-sided science career would neglect nascent and necessary parts of his character. He switched his major to English, even though warned that all he could do with an English degree was teach. During college, a yoga class taken as a P.E. requirement led him to spend five years in a kundalini yoga ashram where he learned and taught the gurmukhi language of the Sikh scriptures. There he married his wife, Carol.
At 27, he was in crisis—wanting to find a meaningful career that would use and develop his talents. Yet what to pursue: humanities, science? In an eastern path at that time these had little value. After a chance encounter, Carol planned to enroll at the Waldorf Early
Childhood program at Mercy College of Detroit. Bill went along, deciding to enroll in the Elementary Education program. It became clear that his well roundness would make him the perfect Waldorf Teacher. His giftedness in math, history, and all subjects brought the two-year-old Austin Waldorf School to court him as a teacher. He began his teaching career in Texas in 1982. He took two classes from grade one to eight, and a third from grade four to eight. He then became middle school math and science teacher as well as mentor to newer teachers. His classes, lively and full of humor, sparked a love for math, science, and language in many a student.
When the school began administrative restructuring, his deep knowledge of the Waldorf curriculum, experience, and leadership qualities led him to take on the position of pedagogical leader. All the while Bill selflessly served the greater Waldorf School movement by teaching blocks, mentoring, and giving public lectures at fledgling schools. He also taught summer courses for teachers, as well as regular classes in the Foundation Studies Program and Pleiades Teacher Training in Austin. Throughout the country, Waldorf classes have performed his plays.
In May of 2016, Bill began a struggle with brain cancer. This was a time for the community to rally and give back to this remarkable man. He was humbled by the love and appreciation that poured in from all those who were touched by him. This love came in the form of letters, music performances, food, funds, visits, and prayers. Words cannot express the family’s thanks for all gestures, large and small, that helped ease a painful journey. Bill’s family could not acknowledge everyone, but know you made a difference.
Bill passed surrounded by family on February 24, 2017. He will be missed by his wife Carol, his grown children Magdalen and Galen, their spouses Michael Marrone and Amanda Toole, granddaughter Addyson, family, friends and colleagues. He leaves behind a strong and thriving Waldorf community, a homestead with land cleared and structures finely crafted by his own hand, and of course students who are better people for his example.
Bill Toole’s obituary can be viewed here and you may also leave condolences for the Toole family.
DONATE TO THE BILL TOOLE MEMORIAL FUND
Please use the below form to make a donation to the AWS Outdoor Education Program in memory of Bill Toole.