Long-time Story County public servant Paul Toot remembered
“None of us has any guarantee of tomorrow,” Pastor Rick Dagit stated during his eulogy for Paul Douglas Toot, a lifelong Nevada resident and a prominent Story County citizen. The remark was made during Toot’s funeral service at St. Patrick’s Catholic Church in Nevada last Thursday, May 12.
Toot died suddenly on May 6. He was 57 years old, a husband and a father of three, and a longtime public servant.
One thing Dagit knew, he said, was that when Toot stood before God on the day of his passing and the Lord asked him what he did in his lifetime for others, “He (God) already knew,” Dagit said. “We belong to the world, loving not for ourselves, but for others… We know that’s exactly what Paul Toot did.”
Toot’s life of service has been well documented, from the 30 years he served as a deputy with the Story County Sheriff’s Office to the past six years he served as a Story County Supervisor, having been elected to that post in 2010 and re-elected in 2014.
Dagit focused the first part of his message on that public service. As a deputy, Dagit said, Toot served with common sense, and with a lot of heart. “To serve the public in such a public way and to do it for no reason other than our protection, never for prestige and honor, but doing it for us, for peace,” Dagit said.
Then to follow those many years of deputy service by accepting another very public position as a county supervisor, Toot did that job in much the same way — with calmness and heart. Dagit said he was told that many noticed how Toot served as a supervisor for others and was good at bringing people from different backgrounds together. “It wasn’t political; it was for us, the people.”
There’s one place that Toot was not a deputy or a supervisor — at home. “The family said he rarely brought his work home,” Dagit said. As important as the public was, “what was most important was his consistency at home.”
Dagit said Toot got the most joy and pride in being a husband, a dad, a brother, an uncle, a friend, a son…
In fact, Dagit started his eulogy by reflecting on the incredible family Toot had come from — that of Delmar and Izzy Toot. “There’s a lot of Toots around. Thank God for that,” he said.
The family remembers Paul Toot for his great sense of humor. Dagit shared a story they had about his retirement from being a deputy. Someone had told Toot that he probably couldn’t wait to get away from all the people who broke the law, and his response was that none of those difficult people bothered him as much as dealing with his (now teenage) son, Ben. That brought a great deal of laughter, especially from the 40 or so high school boys, friends and teammates of Ben, who were gathered in one section of the church to show their support.
Dagit said a father can only make a statement like that, when there’s a lot of love present. He said Paul and Molly raised a family with a lot of love and humor.
Molly Toot said this past weekend that her family can’t find the words to describe how thankful they are for the outpouring of love and support they’ve received from the community. “From friends and family helping us get moved from our old house to the new house in a matter of hours, to the food, flowers, text messages, emails and cards, it has been such a source of comfort to all of us. We learned the true value of living in a small town, it’s amazing.”
Molly reflects back on meeting Paul when they were both working at the Story County Sheriff’s Office, she as a dispatcher. “His sense of humor was certainly what first drew me to him, then his genuineness, kindness and finally meeting and getting to know his wonderful family really sealed the deal.”
The life her husband led was amazing, and when asked, “What did Paul give to all of you during his lifetime that will help you carry on now that he’s gone?,” Molly had two thoughts.
First, she said, “Paul was truly our rock. He was always the voice of reason and helped all of us to make good decisions. I can honestly say he made me laugh every single day for the 25 years we were together. The kids each have their father’s sense of humor, and I love that.”
Second, she said, “I hope my kids know and remember all the great things they heard about their dad over the past week and remember what an impact he made on people and on the community. I hope they will carry on his work ethic and his legacy of being kind, genuine, not judging others and treating others as they would want to be treated.”