A Life Lived: Adrian Tolley was quick to love and laugh
BY ROZELLA HARDIN
Adrian Tolley was 71 years old when he died August 17, but he was a child all his life. However, he had more faith than most, never met a stranger, was quick to love, and even the smallest things in life were big to him and made him laugh.
Adrian had lived with a cousin, Patsy Johnson and her family, since the death of his father a few years ago. He called her “Sis” and rarely did he let her get out of his sight.
Adrian had a laugh that could be heard before you ever seen him. “He loved people. He never met a stranger,” said Patsy.
A very devout Christian, Adrian had been in church all his life. Pleasant Beach Baptist was his church, and Preacher Bobby Stout had been his long-time pastor. There was a bond between he and Preacher Stout and his wife, Jan, that could not be broken. Stout with a fond chuckle shared at Adrian’s funeral: “When I enter Heaven, I can already see and hear him. There will be a big smile on his face, and then the laughter will begin and then the sweet heckling, ‘I beat you, Preacher. I beat you! I beat you!’”
Adrian loved his church and the people that he worshiped with. But, most of all he loved his Savior and spent time in the Word every day. He had tapes and CDs with the Bible recorded on them. Each morning first thing after breakfast and his cup of coffee, Adrian retreated to his room and for an hour listened to the reading of God’s word, following along in his Bible.
Life was an adventure for Adrian. “He enjoyed going to the beach, to drag races, listening to Gospel music, and oh, did he love to eat! It didn’t matter the cuisine — Japanese, Mexican, Italian or just good old American home-style cooking, he liked it,” said Patsy.
In July of this year when the Johnson family was at the beach, Adrian went fishing and caught a small shark. “Oh my, he was so excited! He pulled and tugged at his pole and line until he got it reeled in and in the boat. He couldn’t believe his catch,” said Patsy.
Every day was a new adventure for Adrian, even on Friday when the Johnsons’ cleaning lady, Norma Johnson, came. “He would tell her: Friday is the best day of the week because you come,” said Patsy.
“He was so full of love, so giving, and so cheerful. Every day was an adventure for him. Once, Wes (Patsy and Gary’s son) let him ride in his drag car around the track. Another time, we let him drive the boat when we were out in the ocean. He did not care for swimming, but he loved the ocean and the beach,” said Patsy.
“He never had a wrinkle on his face, but he didn’t have any stress or worry. He loved life and fun. His life was simple, but he lived it to the fullest,” said Patsy.
She noted that during the pandemic, it had been difficult for Adrian not to hug people. “That was his way of greeting people, and he never did get used to it,” said Patsy.
Adrian enjoyed listening to Gospel music and had over 800 CDs. His favorite artist? “He loved them all and if he had a favorite song, he never said,” said Patsy. He also enjoyed word search books.
Adrian’s life was anything but mundane.
He was the son of Raymond and Pauline Tolley, both of whom preceded him in death. “He loved his parents and was devoted to them,” said Patsy. He was a graduate of Elizabethton High School.
Adrian Tolley was a perfect example of what we should be: Kind, loving, and a lot of faith. “He never seen the faults in others, and he loved everyone. He accepted people for who and what they were,” said Patsy.
“Today and every day since he left us, I have missed my shadow,” said Patsy. “Oh, if we all could be just a little bit more like Adrian, what a better world this would be.”
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