Will Christian Tolton’s journey began in Salt Lake City, Utah on September 3, 2007 when he was born to Kevin Dean Tolton and Emily Christensen Tolton. He arrived as a treasured miracle to a family who had been hoping and praying for more children, and was welcomed with endless hugs and kisses, especially from twin brothers Dane and Jonah and big sister Liza. His parents, grandparents, aunts, uncles and cousins all lined up to snuggle this beautiful boy whose deep blue eyes were windows to wisdom beyond his years and a deep and beautiful soul.
Strong Will, Good Will, Iron Will and Will Power are fitting expressions often used to try to encapsulate the emotional, intellectual and physical capacity of this exceptional boy. He is also known as William, Wiam, Fwilam, Willpa, Master William and William the Great.
It was obvious from the beginning that Will not only had a peaceful, generous soul, but he also came with off-the-charts intellect. At 16 months old, he shocked a stewardess on a plane when she heard him say “Mom, I want a drink of water please.” Over time, he used words to uplift, inspire, dream, problem-solve, construct, plan and converse on deep topics. It is always a delight to have an exchange with his brilliant mind.
Will’s curious mind led him to relish all manner of new experiences. Whether riding dolphins in Mexico, rising above the clouds in a hot air balloon in Arizona, bear watching and fishing for salmon in Alaska, splashing in the California waves, climbing and biking in southern Utah, exploring museums in NYC or riding boats on the Aegean Sea, Will embraces adventure. He was always willing to drop everything to be outdoors, exploring new roads as far as they would take him, stopping often to take in the views and breathe the fresh air. A California beach boy at heart, oceans and palm trees will always be symbols for his free spirit and love of nature.
Will is a skateboarding fanatic and he could often be found at the local skateparks with his friends and brothers, cruising around with a unique grace, style and determination. His sensitivity, empathy, open heart and non-judgmental nature make him a loyal and true friend, including to the friendless. He is welcomed and celebrated in every circle. In first grade, the teacher assigned the class to each choose anyone in the world he or she looked up to. The teacher called later that week to say that of the 25 kids in her class (who could have chosen anyone), 6 of them chose Will.
In addition to friends, Will’s tender and compassionate nature draws animals to him. Known as an animal whisperer, Will has a gift for calming both wild and domestic animals, including hyper mushing dogs and ill-tempered geese. Will could often be found grooming, walking and snuggling with his own dogs.
He is an expressive writer and ambitious thinker. Drawers all over the house are crammed with pages of his goals, business ideas, introspections and musings on life. He is an adventurous skier, bombing Needles at Snowbasin top to bottom in a bright yellow ski suit starting at the age of 6. On runs where they aren’t hitting the jumps and flying high, he and his brothers often play a game of ski-hockey where they use one of their helmets as the puck and their skis and poles as the sticks, all while their dad goes ahead of them and skis backwards to film.
Liza, 6 years older than her “Baby Will,” naturally assumed a protective and adoring role, shading his eyes from bright light as a baby, rocking him for hours, taking him on walks as a toddler, holding his hand and guiding him, playing music with him, taking him on gas station runs and long drives and being a confidant for him to laugh with, talk to, share with and learn from. Even as a college student, Liza would take Will and his friends out shopping, to get a bite to eat (Takashi sushi is his favorite) and to drive around. Will could always count on Liza for tight hugs and a sincere “I love you.”
Dane, Jonah and Will are only 20 months apart and they have uniquely close relationships, often being mistaken for triplets. They spent their childhood digging in dirt, building sandcastles, dressing up as superheroes, playing pirates on Papa’s treehouse pirate ship, swimming in his grandparents’ pools, jumping on the trampoline for hours, drawing, reading story after story, catching bugs, camping, and building Minecraft worlds together. As they have gotten older, they have spent their time together sharing ideas, driving, having sleepovers, working in the yard, traveling, skateboarding, cooking and going out to eat. They have always sought each other first and foremost. Will has always turned to Jonah and Dane for compassion and understanding. They have both taken Will under their wing from day one, welcoming him amongst their inner circles of friends.
Cousins played a major role in Will’s life and they have been more like siblings to him than traditional cousins. Together, they have spent countless hours on skateboards, on sleds, on skis, in and behind boats, in planes, on beaches, and in theaters. They play sting pong, cards, cross-net and spike ball. They camp, cliff jump, explore, share holiday traditions, stay up all night laughing, and just thrive in being together. They have entwined their social circles and taken turns being each other’s wingman and social planner. Their pain from his loss is immeasurable.
Losing Will has left us all heartbroken. Our aching is raw and profound. Our hearts feel like they are ripped open. We have loved Will intensely every minute of his life and we don’t know how we will find the path to moving forward without him in our arms, but we do have strong Will power to get us through. The love and support from those that love Will has been astounding and it has helped hold us up. Please keep calling, coming by, hugging and praying for our family. We welcome you and we treasure all the love Will has fostered. We will only get through this with all of our arms around each other. These eternal relationships extend beyond any boundary of geography or time. Will is our guardian angel now, and we will be with him again. Until then, we will hold him in our hearts and await the joyous day when we can embrace him and smother him with kisses again. Will is a truly extraordinary human.
A memorial service will be held for Will on Friday, June 16 from 1 to 2 p.m, followed by an open house until 3:30 at Will’s grandparent’s house, 1929 Ridgehill Drive, Bountiful. Arrive and park 12:30-12:45 at the church at 1800 Mueller Park Road to shuttle up to the house for a prompt 1pm start time. Nice attire suggested.