Toner named grand marshal of Greenwich St. Patrick’s Day parade

GREENWICH — The St. Patrick’s Day Parade will have a familiar face leading it this year as former Selectman John Toner has been named grand marshal for the annual march.

Toner served as selectman from 2015 to 2019, capping off a career of government service that also included time on the Representative Town Meeting and working as a volunteer for several local organizations. And as the son of Irish immigrants Bartley and Rose Toner, parade organizers felt he would be an ideal grand marshal.

“He was someone who you could say has been on our radar for a number of years,” James Daugherty from the Greenwich Hibernian Association said Tuesday. “We have a policy where we don’t have active politicians serve in this role and now that his term is over it really became an obvious choice. He has been and still is someone involved in so many community organizations.”

The parade is scheduled to kick off on March 22 at 2 p.m. and march down Greenwich Avenue after starting out at Town Hall. Crowds typically line the streets of the Avenue to see bagpipe bands, Irish dancers, local officials and many others marking the holiday.

Toner also will be feted by the Greenwich Hibernians on March 7 at their annual St. Patrick’s dinner dance.

“This feels very good,” Toner said Tuesday. “It’s very meaningful for me because of my family. If my parents could be here right now they’d be very happy to see this. The Hibernians do so much in the community and I’m honored to have been chosen by them.”

Toner was born in town and had a diverse career ranging from time in the Peace Corps to 27 years working for Chase Manhattan Bank, where he became a vice president. He was first elected to the RTM in 1998 and has been a longtime member of the Republican Town Committee.

He first was appointed to the Board of Selectmen in January 2015 after the death of Selectman David Theis the previous December. Toner was elected to full terms in 2015 and 2017, when he received the most votes of anyone running in that municipal election.

Toner did not seek a new term in November.

His volunteer service includes working on the Greenwich Hospital Board of Trustees, as president of the hospital’s volunteer auxiliary and as both the president and treasurer of Call-A-Ride — and also as a volunteer driver. He currently serves on the board of Greenwich Green and Clean, the Commission on Aging’s Age Friendly/Dementia Friendly projects, the St. Michael the Archangel Parish Council and the Friends of the Byram Schubert Library.

“There’s been such constant involvement from him in the community and helping people throughout his life,” Daugherty said. “He gives back to people and it started out with his time in the Peace Corps teaching people English. That’s something that really impressed us. And while he was working he still found time to give back through local politics and local service. When he retired, he became even more involved and that really shows the kind of community spirit and eagerness to give back that we look for.”

Toner said he has always enjoyed being involved in town organizations, and is still looking to stay active in town government even after leaving the Board of Selectmen.

“I’ve always tried to be involved with the community because I like working with people,” Toner said. “It’s why I do it. It was something I really loved about being on the Board of Selectmen.”