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High flying Ed Toner dies at age 78

Edward Joseph Toner Jr. was born in Queens, New York and resided in Howell, New Jersey from 1966 to 1993 before moving to Brick. A graduate of the United States Merchant Marine Academy, Kings Point, Toner became a naval aviator and served in three squadrons and aboard six ships before retiring in 1971.

He was a decorated veteran of both the Korean War and Vietnam and was a captain for TWA for 30 years before retiring in 1987.

He is survived by his wife of 50 years, Marlene (Greene); six children, Eamonn, Patrick, Deirdre, Eileen Becker, Timothy and Kevin; his brother, John; eight grandchildren; and two great-grandchildren.

After a funeral Mass he was interred in Brig. Gen. William C. Doyle Veterans Memorial Cemetery, Arneytown.

Though the lines describing his passing are few, those describing Ed Toner's life are far greater in number. Some of them were recorded by the Echo in June, 2008 in a story of how he met his wife, Marlene, a native of Dublin.

Ed was one of the first pilots to fly the Atlantic for Aer Lingus, then AerLinte Eireann, when, in 1958, it started up its own transatlantic service linking Dublin and Shannon with Idlewild Airport in New York.

The Irish airline had cabin crew for its four Super Constellation aircraft, but no pilots trained for the plane at the time.

So it was decided to recruit American pilots to get the new service off the ground. Ed Toner was one of them.

"I got the job as co-pilot. There was the Saint Patrick, Saint Brigid, Saint Brendan and St. Columcille," Toner told the Echo back in 2008.

"On my second crew rest layover in Dublin at the Royal Hibernian Hotel, I decided to check out the nightlife at the Metropole," he said referring to a famous ballroom in the Irish capital at the time."

It was here that he met Marlene Greene. Over time, the two would get to know each other by letter, airmail of course. And it was by airmail that Ed Toner eventually proposed, and Marlene accepted.

And so began their long and happy life together.

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