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July 4th baby

By Peter McDermott


When you've been around 100 years, you can wait a few weeks for the party. So while Marian Toal's family members will individually celebrate her centenary on July 4, the clan won't gather to toast her in person until August.

Independence Day, it seems, doesn't just refer to the County Tyrone woman's birthday. She lives alone in her apartment in New Rochelle, N.Y., and also resides part of the year in Boynton Beach, Fla.

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"She's very independent," said her son Terence Toal Jr. "She gets around."

The former Marian Early was born on July 4, 1910, to a farming family at Strews Road, Tullyodonnell, in the small village of Rock in County Tyrone. On that day, 6,000 miles away in the country that she would later call home, boxer Jack Johnson successfully defended his world heavyweight title by knocking out Jim Jeffries. The result of the "Fight of the Century" in Reno, Nev., sparked riots all over the United States.

The young Marian Early, who was one of seven children, would not arrive in New York until the first week of October 1929. "She shouldn't be blamed," joked her son, referring to the world-shattering events on Wall Street later that month.

She married Terry Toal, a native of Carrickmore, Co. Tyrone, in 1935. He'd been involved in the New York City medallion taxicab industry since 1932 and his younger son (the other, John, is deceased) has a fleet of cabs to this day.

The Toals were very much involved with the bar and restaurant trade in Yonkers, and both were long-time active members of the Tyrone Society of New York.

Marian Toal, who was widowed in 1967, has eight grandchildren and 12 great-grandchildren.

"She's a very strong-willed person," Terence Toal Jr. said. "She's interested in lots of things. And she's very happy with life."

 

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