Peter "Rocky" Toves and his mom, Julie Toves.

Peter "Rocky" Toves and his mom, Julie Toves. Credit: Peter Toves

Julie Toves was always protective of her five children.

One of her sons, Peter “Rocky’’ Toves, said that when he was a kid growing up in Middle Village, Queens, his mother made him confront a bully.

“This boy was chasing me home from school every day,’’ said Rocky Toves, a retired Air Force veteran who lives in San Antonio. “And one day she was waiting outside and saw me running from him, and she told me to turn around and fight that boy. So I did. I didn’t get chased home anymore.’’

After that fight, Julie Toves decided her son needed to learn self-defense, so she enrolled him in karate. Rocky Toves is now a third-degree black belt who still trains.

Julie Toves, of Syosset, died on Easter in the Cold Spring Hills nursing home in Woodbury. Toves' death certificate lists coronary artery disease as the cause, but Rocky Toves said the family believes his mother died from complications caused by COVID-19. She was 86.

Julie Toves was born in Bayamón, Puerto Rico, on Jan. 28, 1934. She moved to Brooklyn after marrying Pete Toves, a U.S. Army soldier. She met him while on vacation in South Carolina. The couple had five children before divorcing.

Her daughter, Debra Garofolo of Locust Valley, said her mother loved to cook and dance. She was a really good Latin dancer, Garofolo said.

“Even when she was older, she could … do the salsa, the merengue,’’ Garofolo said.

Her mother worked into her late 70s, when her children made her finally retire from the job she held at a catering facility in West Hempstead, Garofolo said. According to her son and daughter, Julie Toves commuted two hours each way by bus and train to get to work, and then worked 10-hour shifts.

Six years ago, Julie Toves suffered a stroke that left her partially paralyzed and forced her to move into a nursing home in Woodbury.

Rocky Toves said his mother loved bingo and worked for 20 years at a bingo hall in Queens. She was cremated on April 30. 

Other survivors include son Jessie Toves, of Middle Village; daughter Carmen Gutterman, of Minnesota; three grandchildren; and two great grandchildren. She was predeceased by daughter Wendy Toves and her brother, Rubén Jiménez.

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