Selina “Toni” Ehrlein died of pneumonia on April 17 at Franklin Hospital in Valley Stream.
A lifelong resident of Rockville Centre, Toni was born on March 26, 1948. She was the daughter of Tyler and Margaret Hopkins. Her father was an engineer for Grumman and her mother was the village historian.
Toni graduated from South Side High School. During that time, she met her future husband, Armand Ehrlein, from Woodside, Queens. After high school, he was drafted into the Army and served in Vietnam. Their love for each other grew stronger through letters. He returned home safely as a decorated soldier and they both went on to graduate from Roanoke College. After college, she and Armand married in her family home on Lakeview Avenue. They settled down in Salem, Va., but eventually moved back to her childhood home in Rockville Centre. It was there that they raised their two sons, Ty and Tom.
Like her mother, Toni had a passion for history and was deeply involved with the work at the Phillips House Museum of Rockville Centre. In addition, she spent a great deal of time investigating her family’s lineage. Through extensive research at the New York Public Library and Trinity Church, Toni traced her family’s roots back to the 1500s. She also discovered that her ancestors came to America on the Mayflower, and became a member of the Mayflower Society, about which she was very proud.
Toni went on to earn degrees from Adelphi and Fordham universities. She became a tenured college professor of Economics at Nassau Community College. She believed she had the best job in the world. She was a devoted teacher who was deeply respected and loved by her colleagues and students.
Toni was a strong and independent woman who could hold her own with a hammer. Among her many projects was a two-story deck on her Shelter Island summer home. She also beautifully restored all the woodwork in her home on Lakeview Avenue.
In addition to the Phillips Museum, Toni was an active member of St. Mark’s United Methodist Church, the Fortnightly Club, and P.E.O. Sisterhood. She was an avid golfer, loved boating and spending time with her husband and sons. She especially loved relaxing summers on Shelter Island.
Unfortunately, life wasn’t always easy for Toni. Her husband died in March 2000 from brain cancer. Less than a year later, she suffered a massive brain aneurysm. As a result, she was no longer the independent woman the world once knew. She became dependent on her devoted sons for constant care. Over the course of the next 11 years, she had numerous health issues and was frequently in and out of the hospital and rehabilitation facilities. Through all of that, she still had a gift to enjoy life and make those around her happier.
Toni’s sons and daughters-in-law, and her four beautiful grandchildren, would like to thank everyone for the outpouring of support they have received over the last 11 years, and especially the last few days. Toni loved this town and she will be greatly missed. A memorial service for her will take place at St. Mark’s United Methodist Church, 200 Hempstead Ave. on April 28 at 11 a.m. Those wishing to contribute in her name can send donations to The Phillips House Museum or to St. Mark’s.