Tabitha Toche James
The Matriarch of the Toche/James families had her daily prayer answered on March 31, 2014.
Tabitha Toche James has gone to her Heavenly home, where there is no doubt she will be received with open arms. During her 101 years on this earth," Doody", as she was called by her grandchildren and great-grandchildren, as well as medical staff who cared for her over the years, was a quiet but forceful presence. For 91 years she attended daily Mass at St. Michael's Catholic Church on Point Cadet. As she did not drive, she would walk the 2 blocks to the church, using her walker in her later years. In inclement weather she would don her long black raincoat, rain hat and rain boots and go, as attending Mass was the most important part of her day.
Tabitha taught grade one at St. Michael's School for a short period. Later she was a Girl Scout Leader, served on the Committee of Cub Scout Pack 217, was a chaperone for St. Michael's CYO and was a member of St. Michael's Altar Society, which she served as President for a couple of terms. In 2002, Tabitha received the Lumen Christi Award for "Exemplary service to the people of God." In 2012, she was recognized as the eldest living female alumnus of St. Michael's School.
Born Tabitha Iona Toche to Olivia Ryan Toche and Joseph Antony Toche, Sr., Doody was the second youngest of 10 children, including Lillie Toche Cruso, Joseph Adaulph Sr., Pauline, Arnez, Wesley Sr., Calvin Sr., Olivia, Marcellus Sr. -- all Toche -- as well as Eugene Ellzey Sr., who was raised as her brother. All but her brother, Joseph A. Toche Jr., predeceased her. In 1941, Tabitha married Richard E. (Jimmy) James Sr. (deceased) and ultimately became Mom to Tabitha James Kennedy, Richard E. James Jr. and Kenneth R. James (who predeceased her). In addition to her brother, daughter and eldest son, Doody is survived by her sister-in-law, Agnes James; son-in-law, Robert L. Kennedy, daughters-in-law, Fay Rehage James and Margaret Logan James; her grandchildren, Robert L. Kennedy II (Tammy Arnstein), James K. Kennedy (Bobbi), Richard E. James III (Amie), Jeffrey L. Kennedy (Angie), Anthony B. James (Licette), Catherine James Dumas (Doug), Genevieve James Blasi (Matt), Tabitha Kennedy Baur (Mike), Jacqueline James Imperatore (Eddie) and Jeanne-Marie James Martin (Daniel). She was thrilled with the arrival of her great-grandchildren, Catarina Dumas, Zachery Dumas, Aaron Dumas, Ciarán Kennedy, Julien Kennedy, Kyle Dumas, Darin Martin, Siobhán Kennedy, Auriana Dumas, Vivian Martin, EJ Imperatore, Benjamin Martin and her two chosen great- granddaughters, Kacey and Lauren Schoenemann.
Tabitha remained in her home on Point Cadet for 91 years, until it became necessary for her to move to live with her daughter and son-in-law in Spring, Texas. While in Biloxi, she was often sought out by family members for her counsel and up until she breathed her last, she prayed for all of her family. While raising her family, Doody quietly did good deeds for others, occasionally unbeknownst even to the recipients, which is what she preferred. Even though her resources were extremely limited, she gave freely to charity and monthly presented a list and check to St. Michael's church, for Masses to be said for various family and friends. As Tabitha's two surviving children resided out-of-state, her nephew, Joseph (Adaulph) Toche Jr. became her local "son", transporting her to shop, medical appointments, etc. She was very close to Adaulph and missed their time together very much when she moved to Texas.
As her final act of giving, Tabitha donated her body to the Willed Body Program at the University of Texas Science Center at Houston Medical School for research. Following their testing, her ashes will be returned to the family and a memorial service will be held in Biloxi, where her ashes will be interred in the Biloxi National Cemetery next to her husband. That date will be announced later. Tabitha Kennedy may be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org .
Published in The Sun Herald on Apr. 4, 2014