Steven Shumway Tolle

December 18, 1969February 6, 2019

Steven Shumway Tolle, age 49 passed away on Wednesday February 6, 2019. Steven was born December 18, 1969 in Fresno, California to Mary Tolle and James "Jim" Tolle.

Steven is survived by his; father James "Jim" Tolle and mother Mary Tolle; sister Elizabeth Tolle and brother-in-law Curt Watne.

Steven was preceded in death by; grandfather Jess Tolle, grandmother Margaret Tolle, grandfather Howard Shumway, grandmother Helen Shumway, and aunt Joan Jarvis.

A memorial service for Steven will be held Saturday, February 16, 2019 at 10:00 a.m at Academy Church, 10796 N Madsen Ave, Clovis, California 93619.

Serving as Honorary Pallbearers are Loren Rotroff, Curt Watne, Connor Ames, Robert Young, Jacob Watne and Spencer Ames.

Contributions in Steven's memory may be made to Special Olympics Northern California, 2491 Alluvial Avenue Suit 86, Clovis, California 93611; National Downs Syndrome Congress, 30 Mansell Court, Suite 108, Roswell, Georgia 30076; and Break the Barriers, 8555 N Cedar Avenue, Fresno, California 93720 or to a charity of your choice.

Fond memories and expressions of sympathy may be shared at for the Tolle family.

Steven Shumway Tolle

Strong-minded is the first description that comes to mind. He knew what he wanted and did his best to communicate it. If you understood and said “no” he assumed you did not really understand and he would repeat his “request.” He had a limited speech vocabulary but a wide understanding and could generally make himself understood. You knew where he stood on a topic. When his speech was not clear, if you supplied the words, he would pick the one he meant. “Is your last name Tolle?” “Yes, same as my Dad.” Steven had an incredible visual memory. TV was very important to him. When he saw an ad for something he wanted, the product that was purchased needed to be exactly like the TV ad (ie. Total Gym). He could spell words that he could not say. Numbers were easier for him. His apartment was referred to as 120. He indicated the main streets and places in his area with the bus numbers that ran there. For instance, Fresno Street was 32 if he was giving you directions. Generous but thrifty: when shopping the constant phrase was “check the price” and if it was right, “get backup”. He did not like to take money out of his wallet to buy a thing. He was always saving for something he wanted or a Trip. But he was happy to use his debit card. If you asked him if he wanted to go to lunch or dinner you often heard, “your money”. But he also understood paying his half and sometimes he wanted to treat. He really enjoyed choosing and giving cards and gifts and the money would come out of his wallet then. His loving was constant and he never forgot a kindness. Special people received hand written game schedules of their favorite teams annually starting in 2008. He would ask for type written schedules to copy and he was pleased when his “hard work” was acknowledged. Both college and pro football and major league baseball schedules were faithfully rendered and mailed. He bought large college ruled notebooks in which to do this. For himself, he bought the Phil Steel College Football preview magazine. He kept track of every Division I college football team’s wins and losses on its page of the magazine. He knew which Conference each team was in the “hometown” of that team and even the division. (ie. SEC East). ESPN was his authority. He listened to the “talking heads” sometimes but mainly he followed the scores as they were streamed at the bottom of the TV screen when the games were on. He could read them all. From the time Steven was little he was a 49er fan. He kept expecting a repeat of the Steve Young, Joe Montana eras and was sorely disappointed by the last few years. The Dodgers and the Lakers were his other favorite teams and more worthy of his cheering efforts. Steven had initiative. He started doing sports schedules when he lost his job because of the recession and downsizing. He needed to be busy so he decided what was important for him to do. When his “schedules” were finished he would do paint by number pictures for his special people. He continued to earn money with recycle. He missed planning an annual vacation and quickly realized that being unemployed meant he could travel anytime. The only hitch was his best friend and traveling companion was still working. So he and Rob would plan day trips or weekends to LA or SF or the coast. Rob paid the gas and Steven the meals (with his debit card). They managed a week cruise to the Bahamas. His suitcase was always packed. He told about all his trips with his camera and the ball caps he collected. The vacations that he planned were football stadium picture taking visits, college and pro, and towns family came from and cemeteries. His map of the United States chronicled them all. His parents went too and saw parts of the country they might have missed otherwise. The written word was like magic and a powerful thing that he had a lot of respect for but was unable to decipher it all. So, he adapted. He figured out the key parts of a bill—name of the company, amount due and date due and ignored the paragraphs. He could write a check but was happy to go online and “tell the bank to pay it”. It was important to him to be independent, have his own apartment and do things “himself” and be part of the mainstream. From the time he was 18 he voted for President. He received a signed picture from President George W. Bush after writing him a letter of congratulations. As his own man, he also supported President Obama. He could get real worked up watching CNN at election time. His parents were proud that Steven found a way to do whatever he set his mind to do. When he ballooned up to 200lbs he focused on weight loss. He cut down on fast food, limited salt, and cooked simple meals with his New Wave Oven and microwave. He came back down to a healthy 150 and maintained it . All this independence was made possible by the community based lessons he learned at school, encouragement from family and friends and lessons from life as he matured. All the supported work he had at Valley Children’s Hospital and grocers etc. led to regular employment at Bank of Fresno with a job coach and then as permanent part-time at Burger King. The part of the job he liked best was helping the customers. As for rules he listened, watched and then did things his version of the ”right way”. He was adamant about safety, but most other rules he wanted to modify to his more “efficient” “easy way”. He would list tasks 1,2,3, to help you remember. A loner, Steven generally rejected group activities but he bowled with the Bowling Buddies every Saturday for years. Oh, he would not wear the Bowling Buddies shirt but he enjoyed seeing his friends and competing on a team. Their averages increased over the years and his teams progressed from ARC Division 2 to Division 1 usually in first or second place as they advanced to Region and even State. He had heart repair surgery at age 10 so he could run more in Special Olympics track events. He was very disappointed that the running could not start immediately after surgery. After his heart attack at age 36 he got a pacemaker and when that battery ran down he got another. His cardiologists, Dr. Jue and Dr. Bennett, always had the final word. When he did something reluctantly it was because you “make me do it”. He tried his hardest to get well but his heart wore out. He loved his family and extended and adopted family and friends. It did not matter to him if they were “in his blood” or not. All his “family” was “in his heart”. He was proud to hold each new baby. He was sad to attend a funeral and willing to add his thoughts to the eulogy. It was a comfort to him that family as well as Jesus and God were waiting for him when he passed. Now it must be our comfort too.

Steven Shumway Tolle

The year was 1969 and a lot went on that year. Our beloved Star Trek was cancelled, Big Bird started his rise to stardom on a little show called Sesame Street and Nixon became President. This was the year that I turned three. I have two clear memories of that year. One, I remember being on the floor with my cousins at our grandparents house watching the TV my grandfather built and the adults being excited. My dad said we were watching history in the making as we watched the Apollo 11 land on the moon. The second memory is my mom telling me that I was going to have a sister or a brother but we didn’t know which it would be. We would have to wait and see. Well at the age of three there is no wait and see only the demand of what I wanted. And I wanted a brother. And the best way to get one was to talk to God about this from the top of my slide. Since God was so high up in the sky I had to be real loud so he could hear me. So there I was way up high making my demands known far and wide with my heels banging back and forth and yelling at the top of lungs in a chant: I want a brother, I want a brother. Well low and behold, several months later I had a brother. It is good to be three. As you can tell by my story so far my brother was not unexpected but he was a surprise. From the moment he was born he was not the same as everybody else. He was uniquely Stevie and he has been a surprise ever since. Doctors said this and that and Stevie would surprise them. My parents would worry that he would not be able to do this or that, but he would surprise them and far exceed their expectations. I would think he would not understand this or that, yet he would understand with a clarity and depth and a sense of grace that could take my breath away. Yep, for forty-nine years and forty-nine days God blessed me with the best brother anybody could ask for and I thank him for that. By living his life the way he did he taught me that real meaning of words like resilient, stubborn, charming, negotiate and love. All of you standing here are proof of that love. As a family we know that we would not have made it on this journey without you. Our hearts are filled with gratitude when we think of all the love and support that has been given to us over the years through all the ups and downs. We are truly lucky and from my parents I thank you.


  • James "Jim" Tolle, Father
  • Mary Tolle, Mother
  • Elizabeth Tolle, Sister
  • Curt Watne, Brother-in-law
  • Jessics Watne, Niece
  • Jacob Watne, Nephew
  • Ali Altamurano, Great Niece
  • Cindy Ames, Cousin
  • Randy Ames, Cousin
  • Carey Parrish, Cousin
  • Michael Parrish, Cousin
  • Michele Fredrick, Cousin
  • David Fredrick, Cousin
  • Jess Tolle, Grandfather
  • Margaret Tolle, Grandmother
  • Howard Shumway, Grandfather
  • Helen Shumway, Grandmother
  • Joan Jarvis, Aunt
  • Steven also leaves behind numerous extended family that will cherish his memory.

  • Loren Rotroff, Honorary Pallbearer
  • Curt Watne, Honorary Pallbearer
  • Connor Ames, Honorary Pallbearer
  • Robert Young, Honorary Pallbearer
  • Jacob Watne, Honorary Pallbearer
  • Spencer Ames, Honorary Pallbearer

  • Special Olympics Northern California
  • National Downs Syndrome Congress
  • Break the Barriers


  • Memorial Service Saturday, February 16, 2019

Steven Shumway Tolle

have a memory or condolence to add?

Nicole C

February 13, 2019

I’m so sorry for your loss. May you find comfort in God’s promise of a resurrection where we will be reunited with our loved ones who have passed away and will never be separated by death again - John 5:28, 29; Revelation 21:3,4

Christi and Sherri Greene

February 9, 2019

We will always have very fond, enjoyable memories of Steven. He was so uplifting and happy. He would say “Hey, Goofy, what’s up?” to me. Steven was also a very good bowler. Loved seeing him Saturday afternoons at Rodeo Lanes. Steven you will be missed by many! Thank you for being my friend.
Love, Christi and Sherri Greene