Death of Nancy Evelyn Sicilian Tolley, former missionary in Angola

Death of Nancy Evelyn Sicilian Tolley, former missionary in Angola

Global Ministries is saddened to learn that Nancy Evelyn Sicilian Tolley, aged 77, died peacefully on April 3, 2009 at her home at Pilgrim Place Retirement Community in Claremont, California.

Mrs. Tolley was born March 1, 1932 in Westerly, RI, the third child of Joseph P. Sicilian and Edith Girven Sicilian. She briefly attended Beloit College in Wisconsin prior to graduating with a BS from the Teachers’ College of Connecticut (now Central Connecticut State University). She then attended the Kennedy School of Missions of the Hartford Seminary Foundation in Connecticut, where she met the Reverend Doctor William P. Tolley. They married in May 1955. 

In 1957, Mrs. Tolley and her husband went to Portugal for language study before being placed as missionaries to Angola, Africa in 1959, serving there until forced to leave by the 1961 uprising. After two years at Foxboro Congregational Church in Massachusetts, they returned to the mission field, this time working in Ghana, Africa from 1965-1968. From 1968 until 1991, Rev. and Mrs. Tolley served Congregational churches in Southwick, MA and Newton Centre, MA.

Throughout her lifetime, Mrs. Tolley was committed to, and active in, organizations dealing with issues of peace, justice and racial harmony. She also taught English and other subjects at elementary schools in Hartford, CT and Southwick, MA, and worked for the Clerk of Courts in Westfield, MA.

Wherever she lived, Mrs. Tolley became well-known as a seamstress and dressmaker, specializing in wedding gowns and bridesmaid dresses. After retirement in 1991, Rev. and Mrs. Tolley lived in Wilmington, NC prior to moving to Pilgrim Place in 2000. Soon, Mrs. Tolley’s seamstress talents were legendary within the community, and sought after for the creation of Pilgrims’ Festival costumes.

Mrs. Tolley was preceded in death by her parents, her sister Jean Quattromani, and her husband of 51 years, William Tolley. She leaves three sons, David of Houston, TX, Luis of Jakarta, Indonesia, Paul of Lexington, MA; one daughter, Lisa Alber of Chelmsford, MA; five grandchildren; her brother Robert Sicilian of Mystic, CT; one niece and one nephew.

A memorial service honoring Mrs. Tolley’s life will take place on June 28, 2009 at Pilgrim Place in Claremont, CA. Memorials may be sent to: Pilgrim Place Residents’ Health & Support Fund, 660 Avery Rd, Claremont CA 91711; or Expression of condolence may be sent to:  David C. Tolley, 1521 Waverly Street, Houston, Texas   77008.