The Wealth of Community Series
Ms. Tony Marley
We would like to wish a VERY HAPPY BIRTHDAY to a wonderful lady many people affectionately refer to as Ramseur’s own “Mother Teresa.” Ms. Toni Gilmore Marley will turn 100 years “young” this December 15th. Over the years, this remarkable lady volunteered thousands of hours for local causes, especially Hospice and the Local Food Pantry. She has faithfully served at Our Daily Bread Soup Kitchen in Asheboro and other charitable causes. Ms. Marley has been recognized many times for her many hours of volunteer work. In 2014, she received the Service Above Self Award presented by the Randolph Rotary Club for her volunteerism, especially to the Randolph County Hospice. In 2015, Toni Marley was the recipient of the NC Governor’s Volunteer Service Award in a special ceremony with Governor Pat McCrory. Then in 2020, Ms. Marley was presented with the Order of the Long Leaf Pine, as granted by the State of North Carolina and Governor Roy Cooper. This award was given for her “incredible heart and years of service to her community.” When presented with this award, by Trent Cockerham, CEO of Hospice of Randolph County, Ms. Marley commented, “I can’t feel worthy of this … I don’t feel like I’ve done anything that many other people have done.” What Ms. Marley considers “not worthy” would be quite an accomplishment for most people. Toni had volunteered over 8500 hours of her time when this award was given in September of 2020, and now that number of hours is even more. She not only serves as a patient volunteer by visiting and offering support, she also helps coordinate and prepare donations of desserts and assist with food services. Toni is also known for her baking skills. Hospice credited her with bringing in over $22,000 to the organization through sales of her cakes and desserts.
Ms. Marley was part of the original group of volunteers that was formed back in 1981 when Hospice first came to Randolph County. She now is the last surviving member of that group. She is not the typical person you would expect to donate so much of her time to giving back to her community. She was originally from Pittsboro, in Chatham County, and came to Ramseur when she was 16 years old. She finished high school and married Joe Harris Marley, and they had two children. Her husband unexpectedly died at the young age of 36 and left Tony behind to raise her two children on her own, ages 9 and 5. She lived just a couple blocks from the Coble Dairy where she worked. She was able to put both her children through college, but when her daughter got sick and unable to get around on her own, she gave her the family car so she could get to class from her dorm. During this time without a car to drive, Toni rode a bicycle to work every day, and to church and the grocery store. Eventually, when her daughter passed away from her illness, Toni refused to let hardship get her down. She pulled from her faith, saying “there are a lot of people who are worse off than me”. She dedicated her life to serving others, whether it be in her church or by volunteering her time, she was determined to share God’s gift of caring with others. In addition to the many awards Toni has received, she is most proud of her church and the outreaches it provides. She is a member of Jordan Memorial Methodist Church in Ramseur and active in the ladies’ group, church choir, and assists with the newsletter. She still exercises weekly with ladies of the church and attends services when she can. “I thank the good Lord every day that I can get up and take care of myself”, Marley commented when interviewed after receiving her latest award. She enjoys walking in her yard and growing flowers. Her vision is bad, so she cannot drive anymore, but thankfully she has friends who love her and remember the years of thankless service she has given to her community. Toni Marley is referred to by many who know her as Ramseur’s “Mother Teresa” because of her compassion and zeal for helping others in need. She will turn 100 years young this December 15th, and we wish her a very Happy Happy Birthday.
A celebration service will be given to Ms. Toni Marley Sunday, December 12th from 2:00 till 4:00 pm in the Jordan Memorial Methodist Church fellowship hall, located on Main Street in Ramseur. The public is invited and to please wear a mask, even if vaccinated.
*portions of this article were gathered from the Jordan Memorial Church Newsletter, an article by Tony Bolick USA Network, and from conversations with her friend Emily Johnson. We were unable to interview Ms. Marley directly.