Obituary: Kim Hibbard Tolander

A funeral will be held on Thursday; a fundraiser has been set up to help support her son

Above: The community is mourning the passing of Kim Tolander and rallying to offer support to her family. (images from Facebook)

Last Wednesday, Southborough resident Kim Hibbard Tolander passed away unexpectedly. In addition to being a wife and mother, Tolander was a member of the Southborough School Committee, Vice Chair of NSPAC (the Northborough-Southborough Special Education Parent Advisory Council), and actively involved in supporting the community.

Her family shared the news on Facebook on Thursday morning, which prompted an outpouring of grief and touching tributes. That afternoon, the NSBORO administration emailed* the news to the school community. On Friday, a gofundme page was set up. Funds raised will help with the funeral and celebration of life costs plus, be used to support her 6th grade son “Max’s needs going forward, including: education, activities and personal care”. 

Although an obituary has yet to be officially posted in the papers, her Facebook page was updated yesterday with the following:

Funeral services will be held at Pilgrim Church at 15 Common St. in Southborough, MA, at 11 AM on Thursday, August 11.

There will be a gathering for family and friends after the service at 17 Parkerville Road, Southborough.

On the afternoon of August 3rd, Kim Hibbard Tolander of Southborough passed away unexpectedly after a brief illness. She leaves her loving husband Mats Tolander, her cherished son Max, and her devoted parents Jack and Shirley Hibbard to carry her memory and legacy forward.

Kim was born on June 13, 1974 in Centerville, Indiana and from the start was a bright light to all who knew her. She ventured with courage to Boston University for her undergraduate education and completed her Masters in Business Administration at Simmons College. Kim held many professional and entrepreneurial positions, but the common thread through all was her impeccable communication skills, ability to network and desire to make every effort and every team she touched better through her leadership and enthusiasm.

Kim’s passion was inclusion, and she lived this value in myriad ways in her personal and professional life. She was a staunch and influential advocate for those who may not fit the traditional molds, but deserved respect, empathy and community. This advocacy led to her election to the Southborough School Committee in 2021, where she became a strong and constant voice for those who are too often overlooked. She lived a life of kindness, compassion and connection.

Countless friends gathered in the always-open, welcoming “horseshoe” of Kim’s life. The ultimate connector, she led her friends in doing tremendous good in the world. Her spearheading of a “Shock ‘n’ Claus” – a gathering each holiday season to surprise and delight people and businesses in need – was an uplifting annual tradition that shaped all who participated and stretched to include outposts in other states, spreading the goodness far beyond her personal reach. Kim’s generosity went far beyond any annual event and in fact, was evident in her daily interactions with the people in her life. For Kim, showing up for people – those she knew and those she did not — was a way of life.

Kim’s greatest joy was spending time with her family and in her son Max, Kim found her calling and her driving force. Being a mother was her greatest honor, and she approached her parenting with deep gratitude and utmost care. For Max, she was equal parts Mama Bear, tender heart and superfan. Watching Max develop and grow his passion for team sports was a highlight of recent years. Her pride was evident in every conversation, and her support palpable in every team Max joined.

Kim was blessed with a rapid-fire mind, a wicked sense of humor, a hearty “hoot” of a laugh and the ability to see the humanity in every person she met.

As she always said to Max: “Look for the people that make you feel like sunshine.”

Kim was, indeed, sunshine. She will be missed beyond words and remembered with tremendous love.

*The email from Northborough-Southborough Public Schools Superintendent Gregory Martineau stated:

With profound sadness, I share with you that Kim Tolander, a parent, Southborough School Committee member, and Northborough/Southborough Special Education Parent Advisory Council (NSPAC) Vice-President, passed away unexpectedly on Wednesday, August 3, 2022.

Kim has been an active member of our school community for many years and has been a staunch advocate for ALL students. Kim will be remembered as a caring, intelligent, and kind individual who always thought about others before her own needs. Kim’s passing is a tremendous loss for the Tolander family, our District, and the community of Southborough.

As a District, we will rally around the Tolander family and focus our efforts on supporting Max, Kim and Mats’ son during this difficult time. Earlier today, Thursday, August 4, 2022, Principal Hreschuk and Assistant Principal Mahoney convened Trottier’s Crisis Team to identify a support plan for the days, weeks, and months ahead.

I also do not doubt that our school community will come together to care for and support one another. Kim was a special member of our community who gave so much; she will be dearly missed.

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