Published: March 27, 2012
Lee “Toby” Gordon MacCallum, 76, a longtime resident of East Canaan, Conn., and a well-respected antiques dealer, died at Fairview Hospital on February 1, surrounded by his wife and children.
He was born in Bristol, Conn., on May 27, 1935, the son of Katherine (Strausbaugh) and Gordon MacCallum. Toby was self-employed as proprietor of Toby’s Antiques on Route 44 in East Canaan, with 52 years in the business.
“Toby was such a marvelous character,” said Marguerite Riordan, the well-known Stonington, Conn., antiques dealer. “From the time that I first knew him in the 1970s until my last sale four years ago [Christie’s single-owner sale of the Marguerite and Arthur Riordan Collection], Toby never had a bitter word about anyone, and he knew more about major collectors and their collections in cities around the United States than anyone else.”
Toby was a veteran of the Korean War, serving his country proudly in the US Navy. He was raised to a Master Mason in the St Andrew’s Lodge #64 in Winsted, Conn., in 1958, and was a Worshipful Master of St Andrew’s Lodge in 1968. He was a member of the Order of the Eastern Star at Magnolia Chapter in Winsted.
It was after Toby left the Navy that he got his start in the business, according to Riordan, by entering employment with the style-setting antiques dealers Henry S. Coger and John Bihler. Originally from the Midwest, Coger and Bihler largely introduced the trade and collecting public to the wonders of American folk art, weathervanes, decoys and whirligigs. The pair exhibited at major shows, including the Winter Antiques Show in New York City.
“Henry and John had a house in Falls Village, Mass., with a huge barn full of incredible merchandise,” recalled Riordan. “I believe that they from time to time gave Toby two or three things to sell, perhaps as payment for his services.”
Riordan met Toby about 40‴5 years ago when she accompanied Coger and Bihler to the Houston show and Toby soon became her assistant as well. “He even came to live in Westerly, R.I., to be near me,” she said. When Russian American classical virtuoso pianist and collector Vladimir Horowitz, who went on a world tour after a seven-year absence (but hated eating in restaurants), asked Toby if he would accompany him and cook his dinners, Toby asked Riordan what he should do. “I told him that to give up an opportunity like that . . . I said, ‘I’d fire you if you didn’t do it.'”
Toby is survived by his wife of 35 years, Shirley M. (Daigneault) MacCallum, and his beloved dog Molly. He will also be missed by his children and their spouses, sisters, grandchildren, great grandchildren, several nieces and nephews, as well as extended family members and friends.
Memorial donations may be made to Sand Road Animal Hospital, 136 Sand Road, Falls Village CT 06031 or http://sandroadanimals.com.
There is an online guestbook at www.Montano-shea.com.
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