William Francis Toole died on Sunday, March 11, 2018, at the age of 91. He was preceded in death by his loving wife, Bertha Lee Battey Toole.
In addition to his wife, he was preceded in death by his sister, Eugenia Toole Glover; and his brother, Michael Greiner Toole.
Mr. Toole was born in Augusta, Ga., on Aug. 5, 1926, the son of Frances Ray Greiner and William Franklin Toole. He grew up in Augusta where he graduated from the Academy of Richmond County. He began his musical career early. He played piano for a wedding at the age of 9 and a church organ by age 11. He originally aimed for a career in medicine, but after serving in World War II he earned a Bachelor of Music from Wesleyan College in Macon. At Yale, he received additional bachelor’s and master’s degrees in voice and composition. A tenor, he sang with The Voice of Firestone every Monday night for four years, and he toured the country with the Robert Shaw Chorale. He studied voice for three years at The Juilliard School of Music. He was eventually invited to teach at the school, which he did from 1964-1982. During this time, he was also headmaster of St. Hilda’s and St. Hugh’s School in New York City, as well the choir director and organist at Christ Church in Oyster Bay, N.Y. He spent several years as a judge for the Metropolitan Opera auditions.
A desire to come home brought Mr. Toole back to Augusta in 1982. He accepted a position as an associate professor, teaching humanities and voice at Augusta College. Mr. Toole established annual opera productions for 13 years where he was musical director. He inspired his young students to perform, bringing a taste of New York to Augusta. He retired from Augusta College in 1995.
Upon retiring, Mr. Toole founded The Augusta Collegium Musicum, a choral group that had a goal of musical excellence in performing well-known period works in the Augusta area. He inspired his singers to perform to their highest potential which brought him great joy.
Mr. Toole gave tirelessly of his time and talents to Sacred Heart Cultural Center. He was a member of the organizing board of directors when it reopened in 1987. He received emeritus status in 2014. Mr. Toole started the annual Festival of Nine Lessons and Carols at Sacred Heart in 1988 and conducted it until 2015. In addition to this Christmas concert, the Collegium Staged Dinner at Asti, a popular fundraiser which also benefitted Sacred Heart.
Besides volunteering, his recent years have brought another artistic endeavor — painting watercolors, abstracts, and portraits.
Mr. Toole married Bertha in 1977 and is survived by her seven children, Therese Battey Evans (David), Lee Battey Nordmann (Patrick), Grace Battey Reed (Frederick) of Charleston, S.C., Alfred Mann Battey III (Ellen) of Brunswick, Ga., Elizabeth Battey Elliott (Hoyt) of Jasper, Ala., Caroline Battey Brady (Raymond) and Thomas Barrett Battey (Amanda); 19 grandchildren; and seven great-grandchildren. In addition, he is survived by two nephews, William Robert Toole and McDonald Michael Toole and their children.
A memorial service will be held at 3 p.m. Wednesday, March 14, 2018, at St. Paul’s Episcopal Church, with the Rev. George D. Muir officiating. The family will receive friends in St. Paul’s River Room immediately following the service.
If desired, memorials may be made to Sacred Heart Cultural Center, 1301 Greene St., Augusta, GA 30901 or St. Paul’s Episcopal Church, 605 Reynolds St., Augusta, GA 30901.
Please sign the guestbook and send condolences to www.plattsfuneralhome.com.
Platt’s Funeral Home, 721 Crawford Ave., Augusta, GA 30904, is in charge of the arrangements.