Mary Lee Davis Toles

Published 12:01 am Friday, December 1, 2017

April 4, 1940 – Nov. 24, 2017


NATCHEZ — Memorial services for Mary Lee Davis Toles, 77, of Natchez, who died Friday, Nov. 24, 2017, at Merit Hospital Natchez, will be 1 p.m. Saturday at the Natchez City Auditorium, 207 Jefferson St., with the Rev. Windell Greene officiating.    

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Arrangements are under the direction of Bateaste Memorial Funeral Home.

Visitation will be from 11 a.m. to noon, “Saying Goodbye to Mary Lee” will be from noon to service time, all at the auditorium.

Judge Mary Lee Toles was born April 4, 1940, in Natchez, Adams County, the daughter of Lee Joy Davis and Amie Frazier Davis.

Mary Lee married Thomas “Tom” Toles, June 25, 1962, and they lived in Natchez. Mary Lee was the mother of three children, Gregory, Thomasina and Paul.

She received her elementary and high school education from St. Francis Catholic School in Natchez. Her innate leadership abilities began when she was a student at St. Francis High School where she served as president of her class and graduated as valediction in 1957. This, coupled with her distain for inequalities, propelled her into public service as she continued her education at Natchez Junior College, Copiah Lincoln College and the University of Southern Mississippi.

Her public service began early in life when she joined the local chapter of the NAACP and shortly thereafter was appointed state youth advisor. She was a lifetime member of the organization and was serving as president of the local chapter at the time of her death. Mrs. Toles became active in the local and state Mississippi Democratic National Party, serving as a delegate at a number of national conventions. In 1982, Mrs. Toles was elected justice court judge and served her constituency for 26 years until she retired from the bench in 2008.

Mary Lee was an active member of King Solomon Baptist Church where she served as chairman of the trustee board and worked on various committees including the church directory and the church ascetics. She was the co-founder and a charter member of the Natchez Associations of Preservation of Afro American Culture (NAPAC) where she served as president of the organization for nine years (1990 to 1999.) As a result of her leadership, along with four other women, Josie Gilchrist Camper, Patricia Washington, Flora Terrell and Mary White, NAPAC was chartered in March of 1990, with the stated purpose and mission which still remains to this day “to be the vehicle in which to educate the public on the history of the African American community of Natchez, MS from the earliest appearance of Africans in the Natchez area to the present time.”

Mary Lee’s service to mankind was multidimensional whereas she served in various organizations including: interim alderman, Natchez Convention and Promotion Commission, Community Development, Natchez Business and Civic League where she served as president from 2008 to 2009, and founder of Black Magnolia Reading Group.

Judge Toles was preceded in death by her parents; one son, Gregory; two stepdaughters, Joyce Rose and Lolita; one grandson, Boise Walker Thornton; and two brothers, Lee Joy Davis Jr. and Edward Davis.

Survivors include her husband of 55 years, Thomas “Tom” Toles; one daughter, Thomasina Toles Thornton of South Orange, N.J.; one son, Paul Toles and wife, Trina, of Jackson; four stepchildren, Deborah, Tom III and wife, Darlene, Shannon and husband, Mack, and Larry; five grandchildren, Ivana, Alyse, Leeana, Flora and Kira; 17 step-grandchildren, Tanita, Brandon, Jaydon, Terry, Chantay, Tomekio, Gregory, Damian, Yolanda, Robert, Kamiti, Nyanasanu, Bahati, Tony, Michael, Danielle and Dionne; two brothers, James Bobby Davis of Vicksburg and William “Red” Davis of New Orleans; one sister-in-law, Pauline Toles Allen and husband, Charles, of Houston; and a number of nieces, nephews, cousins, other relatives and friends.