Robert L. Toner
Growth and Excellence, Close to Home
Robert L. Toner, a cable-television-equipment pioneer, says he's impressed by Abington Memorial Hospital's growth over the years, and that he hopes his charitable support will help AMH continue to grow.
Bob grew up in Erdenheim and graduated from Springfield High School. He received his electronics education in the Navy at the Naval Electronics School on Treasure Island, California, and at Sabana Seca, Puerto Rico. Bob went to work for the Bell Telephone Company and became a sales engineer. He progressed in sales and marketing management with General Electric, then with Fisher and Porter, where he became a division manager. He joined Jerrold Electronics, a company that was the developer of electronics for the cable television industry, as sales manager. When General Instrument, a large corporation, bought Jerrold, Bob left. He started a modest cable electronics supply company in the basement of his Maple Glen home. Today his company, Toner Cable Equipment, Inc., a family-owned business, sells worldwide, with a major facility in Horsham, another office and warehouse in England plus sales staff in Florida to serve clients throughout South America.
Bob is still active in the family business, and after all these years he finds it difficult not to spend time at the office.
Bob has served on the boards at Gwynedd Mercy College and the Abington Memorial Hospital Foundation. Bob married Shawn Schiller of Glenolden in 1955. They first had a house in Willow Grove, then they built a home in Maple Glen and lived there until their three children all had grown and left. In 1982 they moved to Whitpain Farm. Over the years Bob and his wife traveled widely, including annual trips to Barbados for the month of February – where they rented the same oceanfront cottage every year for some 25 years – and frequent excursions throughout Europe and Asia.
"We loved to travel all around the world," he recalls, noting an especially memorable trip they took in the 1980s to China, which he coordinated with a customer who lived there. "This was before China was opened to the world," says Bob, "and we saw things few
Americans had ever seen at the time."
Shawn, his wife of 49 years, passed away in 2004. Today, Bob prefers to stay closer to home – and he likes having his children near at hand as well. "We're a close family," he says of his three children, two of whom were born at Abington Memorial Hospital. All three live within 20 minutes of his current residence in Lafayette Hill, and all three, plus a grandchild, work for Toner Cable Equipment. He enjoys spending time with his children and grandchildren at the family's summer home on Long Beach Island, New Jersey.
A Gift to Support Physicians
Bob says that working to grow his own company has given him a special appreciation for the hospital's growth. Serving on the hospital's Foundation Board also provided him with an insider's admiration for the hospital's success. But what he most appreciates about AMH, he says, is that he and his family have received such excellent care over the years. Which is why, he stresses, he wanted his gift to further strengthen the hospital's ability to hire and retain the best physicians.
"I'm very enthusiastic about this hospital," says Bob. "I've watched how it has grown. I've admired how it has remained such a personal place. And I've been especially impressed with the quality of the care I get from my doctors."
Among them, he notes, are his primary physician, Margot Boigon, M.D., his cardiologist, Asoka Balaratna, M.D., and his dermatologist, William A. Horn, M.D. But Bob reserves special praise for John J. Kelly, M.D., Abington Memorial Hospital's chief of staff, chief safety officer and specialist in infectious diseases and internal medicine. "I like Dr. Kelly's commitment to physician excellence," says Bob, "and I like his efforts to keep attracting great doctors to become part of the hospital."
Dr. Kelly, in turn, expresses appreciation for Bob Toner's support for physician excellence. His gift, says Dr. Kelly, will support critical recruitment and retention efforts at a time when fewer young physicians are choosing to remain in Pennsylvania after receiving their training here. "Bob Toner's gift is really remarkable," stresses Dr. Kelly.
"He understands that our physicians are a major driver of our clinical excellence and sustain the hospital over the long term.
Bob has shown great generosity in looking to the future and helping to ensure that we'll have the physicians we need, when we need them."
The reason for that, Bob Toner says, is simple: "Abington will always need more great doctors. Always."