James Toth

James Edmund Toth

12-22-1936 - 08-25-2023

Recommend James's obituary to your friends
Share Your Memory of

Obituary of James Edmund Toth



James Edmund Toth, 86, died on August 25, 2023, in Lexington, SC, of natural causes.

Jim was born December 22, 1936, in Urbana, IL, to Edmund F. and Georgina (McCallum) Toth. He grew up there, attended the University of Illinois, and started his long military career in the University’s Navy ROTC program. Also in Urbana, he was introduced to the bagpipes as a youth and played the instrument his entire life, encouraging and teaching others, including his sons and granddaughter, to play and love them as he did.

Jim married Mary Elizabeth (Molly) Havel in 1958, and is survived by Molly; daughters, Elizabeth (Edward) Maixner, Herndon, VA, and Theresa (Tab) McCullough, Lexington, SC; sons, Robert (Sarah) Toth, Huntsville, AL, and Andrew (Tammy) Toth, San Antonio, TX; sister-in-law, Carol Toth; brothers-in-law, Victor Havel and Bernard (P.J.) Havel. Col. and Dr. Toth have ten grandchildren—Rhabi Maixner and Molly Dillhoff (Kate Mollen); Kyle and Katherine Toth; Megan Keatley (Brandon), Katherine and Kelly McCullough; Richard Stringer, Venice (Amanda) Toth, Victoria Toth; and two great-grandchildren, Marlo and Claire Keatley.  He is predeceased by his parents and his brother, Richard.

Jim was proud to serve in the U.S. military for fifty years.  In his 30 years as an active-duty U.S. Marine, he served with the Second, Third, and Fifth Divisions; First and Second Air and Naval Gunfire Liaison Companies; and USS Newport News (CA 148) and Second Fleet Headquarters. Besides further assignments to the U.S. Navy and U.S. Army Operating Forces, he served with the Marine and Army Forces of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization and Republic of Korea.

Jim served much of his career in the Air Naval Gunfire Liaison Company (ANGLICO). It was a fire support and liaison unit of the 28th Marine Regiment, and its mission was to establish for Marine commanders a system to coordinate control of fires in support of joint, allied, and coalition forces. When commanding that unit in the late 1970s, he led the development of what became called the "Universal Spotter," a Marine trained to coordinate control fires resulting from artillery, naval gunfire, and/or air attacks.

It's part of the nature of military service that we won’t know all of Jim’s contributions to his country. At  his military retirement in 1988, for example, the U.S. Marines commandant [General Al Gray] called out Jim as the source of the concept [in the 1970s] for the Navy to develop a scheme to preposition small fleets of ships near potential world trouble spots, so that Marine and Navy personnel and aircraft  could be flown to them in a flash if and when needed and their equipment would already be in place for them. The first such prepositioned fleet sailed in 1979.

As a retired colonel, Jim chaired the Department of Military Strategy and Logistics at the Industrial College of the Armed Forces (now The Eisenhower School for National Security and Resource Strategy).  He took part in several national strategy reviews and the U.S. military’s joint doctrine development assignments including for the 1990-91 Gulf War.

As a historian, Jim was passionate about historic preservation and led efforts to save and preserve two historic homes in Virginia, and the Stone Church in Ft. Defiance, VA, where he and Molly retired and lived their best lives for 18 years.

Some might suspect that the assignment of the title “man’s best friend” came from Jim Toth. While it was clear Jim loved his kids and grandkids dearly, they often swore he held his dogs in higher esteem.  Jim and Molly rescued and took care of many, many dogs in their home over their married life of 65 years.

Jim shouldered huge responsibilities throughout his life, be it as an elder brother, loyal son, devoted husband, or caring father. But his passion was serving his country and leading his fellow Marines in protecting and shaping the boundaries of freedom. That's surely what steered his life, whether serving with his compatriots in Vietnam or elsewhere, or helping a family member or neighbor in need.

South Carolina Cremation Society is assisting the family. Family and friends may sign the online guest book by clicking on the “Tribute Wall” tab above.


To plant a beautiful memorial tree in memory of James Toth, please visit our Tree Store
A Memorial Tree was planted for James
We are deeply sorry for your loss ~ the staff at South Carolina Cremation Society