M.J. “Toby” Fennell


M.J. “Toby” Fennell, 82, of Hillville, formerly of Chicora, a well-known retired Chicora carpenter, passed away at the home of his daughter, Monday morning, May 3, 2021.

Milford J. was born in Chicora on August 21, 1938. He was the son of the late Williard “Pete” and Rose Hickey Fennell.

He was a 1956 graduate of Chicora High School. In his younger years, he was an avid softball player. Toby would later serve six years in the U.S. Army reserves.

As a teenager Toby was employed at the bowling alley in Chicora and had a job planting pine trees, and as Toby would say, “All for just $2 a day.” He was later employed at Shank Construction where Toby always joked, “I lost my first paycheck.” He then entered into a contracting business with his father. Following the death of his father in 1965, he established M.J. Fennell General Contracting, a business which he operated in Chicora for nearly 30 years. Toby was well known as a skilled builder and carpenter and was highly respected among his many customers. His business card read, “We build the best and repair the rest.” Toby was proud that he built all three of his children houses. He enjoyed hunting, especially coon hunting, and fishing, and spending time with his grandkids, sitting on the porch in Hillville “watching the grass grow” with his faithful companion, “Marley”, and trips to his camp in Marienville where would occasionally be found “Dancin’ at the Nansen.”

Toby was married at St. Paul United Church of Christ on September 13, 1958 to Patricia K. Boltz. Patty, the love of his life, passed away on July 24, 2003.

Toby is survived by three children, James W. “Jim” Fennell of Fenelton, Merritt D. Waldroup and her husband, Donald, of Hillville, and Shannon M. Eyth and her husband, Brandon, of Petrolia; three grandchildren, Katrina M. Fennell and Madison M. and Kaden K Eyth; his brother, Gary Fennell of Chicora; two sisters, Deborah Berteotti and her husband, Bernard, of Karns City and Lorrie Foley of Fredericksburg, VA; his sisters-in-law and brothers-in-law, Darla Fennell of Chicora, Ruth and Butch Miller, Carolyn Hillwig, and Linda and Frank Rottman, all of Kaylor, as well as a number of nieces, nephews, cousins, and many friends.

In addition to his wife and parents, he was preceded in death by a brother, Kenneth Fennell, and a brothers-in-law, J. Kevin Foley, Jim Hillwig, and Speedy Rottman.

Toby used to tell his friend, Kurtie, “This getting old ain’t for sissies,” and “Just remember, today is the first day of the rest of your life.”

Friends will be received at the Hile Funeral Home of Chicora, 339 Chicora Fenelton Rd., Chicora, from 1 -3 and 5 – 8 p.m. Thursday. There will be no visitation Friday. Visitation will be held Saturday at Trinity Reformed Church, 887 Rt. 268, in Brady’s Bend, from 10 – 11 a.m. A funeral service will follow at 11:00 a.m. with the Rev. Pete Sapp, church pastor and the Rev. Samuel Swick, a United Church of Christ pastor and family friend, co-officiating. Interment will be beside his wife in Oak Grove Cemetery, Sugarcreek Twp., Armstrong Co. Military honors will be accorded by members of the Chicora and Brady’s Bend American Legion Posts. All are invited to the funeral dinner at Holly Point Banquet & Event Hall, 222 Holly Rd., Chicora, at 1:30 p.m. Saturday.

Memorial contributions may be made to Trinity Reformed Church, 887 Rt. 268, East Brady, PA 16028.

Condolences may be sent by visiting www.hilefh.com.


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