In Remembrance: Edward Spencer Toole ’81 Died on November 19 2022

View full image

Edward Spencer Toole, dearly adored husband, father, grandfather, athlete, and entrepreneur, died November 19, 2022, on Nantucket Island from a glioblastoma after a two-and-half-year journey with brain cancer—a journey taken with bravery, grace, and an unflagging willingness to work hard to overcome this disease. These were the constant traits of Edward’s life. He was 63.

Married for 33 years, Edward and his wife, Rachel Cahill Hobart ’81, raised three children: Samuel (married to Phoebe McKee Toole ’18MSN), Henry ’14 (married to Jamie Connell Toole), and Margaret. He was a loving grandfather to Bridget and Quinn.

Edward, or Eddie, as he was known to his family and good friends, was a man of myriad talents. He was an intrepid soul who was never afraid to try new things regardless of the challenge—a fact evident to all who knew him.

Born in New Haven, Connecticut, on May 15, 1959, to Allan Lawrence Toole ’54 (d. 2019) and Nikki Spencer Toole, Edward and his siblings, Cynthia, Michael, and James, enjoyed childhood near Yale New Haven Hospital and then the suburbs that surround Yale University. A childhood that included his father’s small backyard ice hockey rinks and his mother’s subpar cooking, a fact he often joked about with her. He graduated from Phillips Academy before returning to New Haven and Yale for an undergraduate degree in architecture. It was there that he met his wife, Rachel.

During college, Eddie took time off and moved to Nantucket where he learned the construction business and designed and built his first house in 1979. He returned to Yale and graduated with the class of 1981, before moving back to Nantucket and launching ALTEST Ventures, a company name created by combining his father’s and his own initials.

Eddie operated ALTEST Ventures for the next 40-plus years, building homes all across Nantucket as a preeminent contractor on the island. He also developed a keen eye for real estate investment and enjoyed working with friends and colleagues in the real estate business.

Edward gave back to the community in a number of ways, but perhaps most notably by serving on the Zoning Board of Appeals for 25 years, many as the chair. More telling than formal volunteer roles was his dedication to helping individuals: he volunteered to teach adults to swim, taught English as a second language, and informally mentored budding athletes.

Although Eddie enjoyed myriad successes, he retained the ability to quickly connect with anyone he encountered in both his work and personal lives. Despite regular protests before heading out to any social event, Eddie was, at his core, a people person. He drew people in with his infectious laughter, quick-witted jabs, and wicked humor. It is easy to picture him “cracking up,” head-tilted back, eyes closed, and hands clapping, often at his own joke.

He and Rachel loved to dance and always remembered a particular dance to Ben E. King's “Stand by Me” as the start of a wonderful relationship that spanned 44 years. On the dance floor, Edward was a force, and usually one of the last to exit with a sweat-drenched shirt. He did not care what others thought of him, instead reveling in the absolute joy of the moment.

Regardless of what Eddie took on in his life, he approached it with unabashed focus. Nothing better captures this than his devotion to endurance sports that began in his 40s. Eddie competed in over 25 full Ironman races, six of them at the Hawaiian World Championship, where he once finished in the top five competitors in his age group. He won his age group several times in Ironman events in Louisville and Lake Placid and regularly finished in the top ten competitors.

To keep himself challenged, Eddie added multi-day adventure races and bike races over the years. He was drawn into endurance sports after a $100 dollar bet at a dinner party that he could not run the NYC Marathon in under four hours—he ran home $100 dollars richer. And when he decided to translate marathon running into the final leg of an Ironman triathlon, Eddie trained alone on Nantucket using a written program created by a former Ironman athlete that he kept in a large three-ring binder. Simply put, Edward was an incredibly disciplined and accomplished athlete.

It was more common than not to see him in workout garb, often riding his bike early in the morning. He loved not only the physical aspect of his sport but also the friends he made while swimming, biking, and running. With his family in tow, hetraveled and competed across the globe, finding immense joy “in the saddle.”

On top of running a business and training endlessly, Eddie somehow managed to find time to enjoy many other parts of life with supreme verve. Early in the morning, pre–bike ride, he could be found sitting in the kitchen sipping one of his many daily espressos and completing the NY Times crossword in ink or playing Words with Friends. He “ruined” many beautiful days playing golf at Sankaty Head Golf Club with his sons and friends, where he was a member for more than 30 years. More recently, he enthusiastically explored the streets, galleries, theaters, and restaurants of NYC with his daughter and wife after he and Rachel split their time there as they neared retirement.

Eddie lived his life vigorously and full of joy, setting an example for all of us. We will remember his determination, notablestyle, passion for sports, crazy dancing, and his fierce devotion and love for his family and his friends.

We all miss him terribly.

Interred on December 2, 2022, in a private family service, Edward's life will be celebrated by a memorial service in Siasconset, Massachusetts, in June 2023.

In lieu of flowers, please consider a contribution to Dr. Brian Nahed and Dr. Nancy Wang’s research at Massachusetts General Hospital. For online donations, please visit and indicate that a gift has been made in Edward Toole’s memory. In the designation section of the donation page please include Drs. Brian Nahed and Nancy Wang’s research.

For mailed donations, gifts may be made out to Massachusetts General Hospital Attn: Sarah Gaylord; MGH Development Office; 125 Nashua Street, Suite 540; Boston, MA 02114. Memo: In memory of Edward Toole to Drs. Brian Nahed and Nancy Wang’s research.

—Submitted by the family.

1 remembrance

  • Lisa Botticelli
    Lisa Botticelli, 6:28am January 24 2023 | Ico flag Flag as inappropriate

    Having known Eddie and Rachel since we moved to Nantucket more than 30 years ago I would say that this recap of Ed's life and loves is an amazing tribute to him and his spirit of life. We have enjoyed many amazing memories together that will live on in my mind for the rest of my life. I feel blessed to have known him and he will be missed by all.

Post a remembrance