Alyson Tozer passes away after lifelong battle with cystic fibrosis

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This is very hard to write.

After a battle with cystic fibrosis, former Miss La Paz County, lifelong Parker resident and my good friend Alyson Tozer has passed away in hospital in Phoenix. She was surrounded by her immediate family and a team of doctors who had worked tirelessly on her behalf over many years. She was 21 years old.

Everyone knew her and loved her. Aly had a strong spirit that inspired all who met her. She worked hard in aid of cystic fibrosis research, was an advocate of organ donation and a champion for women. She competed in Miss America Organization events and loved the pageant life, making many friends in the process who were just as struck by Aly’s strength as her Parker community. She spent time this past year working on a memoir about her life.

Aly had a double lung transplant just over 13 months ago, from which she recovered so quickly and so well she surprised her doctors. It was a relief for her family and friends, and Aly made a triumphant appearance on Fox 10 Phoenix celebrating her new chance at life. I was able to visit her in Phoenix and see her smile, and she seemed more full of joy than ever. By November she was finally allowed to come home to the Parker Strip.

But early in the new year her body started to suffer badly from rejection of the new lungs, despite frequent visits with her doctors who were giving her a range of treatments for the rejection and trying to deal with other aspects of her illness. Aly spent months in hospital during the first part of this year, dealing with medical complications. She underwent a process called plasmapheresis twice, was on some potent medication, and had a minor surgery.

Just over a month ago, Aly celebrated her ‘Breath Day’; one year since her lung transplant. She spent it surrounded by friends and family on the river where she grew up, boating, swimming and trying on new dresses. She was in good spirits, thankful for the life she was able to live.

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But then Aly was admitted to hospital again, this time as the result of a sudden seizure. It became a struggle to balance Aly’s various medical needs, with her lung capacity becoming severely reduced. At the end of August she was back on the transplant list, a result of the urgency of a second transplant despite the weakness of her body.

On Tuesday, doctors said she was not capable of receiving a transplant. Aly passed away at 7:13pm.

Over the last few weeks, there has been a groundswell of support from the Parker community for Aly. She was loved by many, and a role model for even more. On Facebook, many changed their profile pictures to the ’65 Roses’ motif and left messages like these:

“65 roses. I am thinking about you Aly. Just so you know, you have forever changed who I am.”

“You are one of the strongest women I have ever met.”

“Sixty-five roses and hugs being sent to you Aly.”

“YOU are our MISS AMERICA”

“Such a courageous young lady”

“She is the most caring, supportive, crazy, funny an tell you how it is kinda girl!”

“I believe in you and so does the rest of your family, friends, and Arizona community! You’re our Hometown Hero!” #teamALY

I didn’t want to write this article. When I got the sad news about our friend, I stood and watched the storm clouds build over the Parker Strip and thought about our effort this week to show support for her: 65 donated roses, a camera and the story of a brave woman who I admired more than I could ever express to her. The idea was to offer the roses to people who would want their photograph taken in solidarity with Aly. The roses were to arrive Wednesday. Now, the photographs will be in memory of her and the roses $10 in aid of CF research, which is what we think she would have wanted.

In the days to come, there will be many who will reflect on the person Alyson Tozer was. They’ll think of the last time they saw her, the smile she always had and her sheer determination in the face of adversity. In the end, hers was a life tragically short but wonderfully full, and it reflected all the things we hope for ourselves: zest for life, steely ambition, joy, beauty inside and out, willingness to try, engagement with fellow travelers, youthfulness and optimism.

The last message I got from Aly said simply: “Thank you, love you.”

We loved her too. She left a strong impression on the world in her time and will be greatly, greatly missed.

Teresa Tozer expressed gratefulness to the Parker area community, saying, “It takes a village and we have the best there is.”

92 comments

  1. Robin L. Marchbanks Cooper

    This is very sad news…… Aly has touched the lives of many with her strong fighting will! Thoughts of comfort for Rich and Teresa……

  2. Britni Quinn

    Great article john I can’t imagine how difficult it was for you to write. RIP Aly and know you touched the hearts of many❤️. I would like a rose also. I won’t be in town till Friday so if there are still some then let me know.

  3. Kimmy Couch Garcia

    Wonderful article and I’m sure so very difficult to write. While I didn’t know her, the struggles she endured and overcame were miraculous. Such a brave strong young woman. Condolences to her family and friends.

  4. Rich Burns

    I am very sorry for your loss, thoughts and prayers going out to her family

  5. Alyse Marie Miknaitis

    Omg my condolences to the tozer family. My heart breaks for aly’s tozer family. I’m so so so sorry for your lost. Jeff Miknaitis and I sending you prayers forever. She was and always a beautiful woman. ♡♡♡♡♡♡

  6. Sarah Marie

    My deepest condolences. My thoughts and prayers are with the family friends and loved ones, especially her parents. Truly heartbreaking

  7. Nana Gillaspy

    Such a beautiful girl, so sad for her family

  8. Pam Crans Stark

    So sad to lose such a young beautiful life. Our condolences to her family.

  9. Kyle Conley

    My deepest sympathies and condolences to the Tozer Family

  10. So sad, what a beautiful soul.
    Rest In Paradise Sweetheart.

  11. Monette Mayfield

    Sooooo soooo very heartbroken… rest in peace Aly!

  12. Lawanda Mayfield

    Such sad news! Aly was a trooper! Thoughts and prayers are with the Tozer family and friends at this very difficult time. May God bring peace and comfort in their time of need. Rest in paradise Aly!

  13. RIP Aly… you will be missed by many…

  14. Ellen Bailey

    So sorry to hear about Alyson……Prayers to Rich and Teresa. RIP Alyson….no more pain……

  15. My deepest sympathies and condolences. You were a great person with a large heart. Rip beautiful.

  16. I am in shock… i knew she would always beat any obstacle put in front of her with a beautiful smile! I cant help but think of a poem i read years ago, i think aly would probably say something similar:
    Perhaps my time seemed all too brief,
    Dont lengthen it now with grief
    Lift up your heart rejoice with me
    GOD wanted me now, my pain is set free,
    Where my parting has left a void,
    Fill it with all our memories of joy.
    She is so strong, she would worry for her loved ones and not want them to hurt. I love you aly!

  17. So sorry to hear of your lost Richard Tozer. Your classmate of 1973 – Irene Shortey; Peggy Sloter.. God be with you and your family

  18. I don’t understand.
    God has his way of taking our little souls.
    I didn’t know you little princess, but I heard many great things.
    May you rest in paradise. My condolences and many respects to the Tozer Family and thank you John. I know it took allot out of you to publish this sir.

  19. John Veech

    I am SO SAD to hear this.

    Aly was in the CCR youth group. I know she is breathing in new life that can only come from Jesus Christ.

  20. Your words describing Aly are very beautiful and felt in the heart. Thank you for sharing John. My deepest condolences to her family and friends. Rest in Paradise..

  21. At the end of our lives we will ask, “Did I live ? Did I love? Did I matter?” Brendon Burchard
    Aly did all of this with passion! One of the most amazing young ladies I know!!!!!!!

  22. Mike Susan Clements

    RIP and prayers going out from Canada to all her friends and family

  23. Teresa Valenzuela Ponce

    Such sad news. My deepest condolences to the Tozer Family.

  24. RIP Aly, you lived an amazing life.

  25. Anita Simmons

    Her posts were so inspiring. I believe she inspired more people than she knew. <3

  26. Nathaniel Cooper

    Condolences to the family. :/

  27. Carolyn Portilla

    R I P prayers to the Tozer family god bless you all

  28. Heartbroken over this tragic loss. Sending my heartfelt thoughts and prayers to all mourning her loss and most especially to Rich and Teresa.

  29. Prayers n condolences to the tozer family.

  30. Thank you Aly and parents for your contributions to our community. God has received a sweet spirit. My prayers are with you Rich and Teresa.

  31. She was an amazing girl. I am forever grateful to have met Aly. Teresa and Rich you are amazing parents. No words to ease your loss. You are in my family’s thoughts and prayers.

  32. Maria Torres

    I’m so sorry for you loss, prayers to Mr and Mrs Tozer in this sad time. She was beautiful and a strong young lady. Aly rest peacefully as our mighty god greats you with open arms!

  33. Prayers and deepest sympathy to Rich and Teresa..we are so very sorry for your loss.

  34. Andrea Lindsey

    Wow i am so very sorry to this story!!!! I got chills while reading!!!! I have someone very very close to me who had battled with CF all his life too! Hes hanging strong! My heart trule goes out to all your family!!!! You will remain in my heart forever!!!! Again im very sorry!! May she RIP with no more pain for this horrible CF. Big hugs arent your way!!!!!

  35. I am sorry for your loss. I did not know her personally but have heard the way other people talk about her and it was clear that she had a zest for life and unending kindness. May you rest in peace Alyson Tozer.

  36. To Rich and Teresa, God bless you always for the strength, commitment, compassion and love the two of you gave to your daughter. There is no greater gift parents can give their children and you did it in a way that effected all of us, not just Aly. Barbara and I recall when Aly was born and some of the early struggles the two of you faced, for most of us, it would have been overwhelming but you guys took the challenges head on and succeeded. Aly grew up and became a beautiful young woman and one that will be sincerely missed. We wish you nothing but peace and comfort during this difficult time and in the future. It has been an honor to know the three of you.

    May God be with you always

  37. My heart is breaking for Aly’s parents ~ Rich & Theresa. Such a beautiful, kind, caring family. There are no words to ease their pain, I pray they find comfort knowing that Aly was, and still is, an inspiration to so very many people. May you rest in peace, free from pain, Aly.

  38. Thanks for being a strong and shining light of Love and health, Alyson Tozer! You will continue to live in our spirits. Love to Teresa and Rich.

  39. My heart goes out to Rich and Teresa! I am deeply sorry to hear about Aly passing. What a beautiful and remarkable young lady. God truly has a Special Angel with Him now!

  40. Pamela Hiatt Adkins

    Aly I have known you sense you were a little girl

  41. Dan and Deanna Beaver

    Our hearts ache for Rich and Teresa. You are in our thoughts and prayers. You raised a wonderful daughter and she has left behind a legacy of inspiration to others which will live on. HUGS to you both !

  42. What a champion~it’s a sad day for those left behind. Rest in peace Aly. May the wonderful memories of her remarkable life sustain Theresa, Rich, family and friends.

  43. My family was blessed to know such a beautiful, inspirational and talented young lady. So many fun, happy memories flooded my mind last night after I got the call. Richard, Courtney and my hearts ache for you Rich and Teresa. Please know you and your family are in our thoughts and prayers during this difficult time.

  44. My heart breaks for Rich and Teresa, hugs and condolences to you, and may God bless you and help you find peace. I’ll always remember Aly’s zest for life, compassion and caring for others, seeing her grow from an adorable toddler to a gorgeous young woman, and the last time I saw her beautiful smile at Janet’s house. Aly was an angel on Earth and now she’ll continue her work from Heaven. When her memoirs are published, I look forward to reading them. I know she’ll inspire so many from Heaven as she did while with us in this life.

  45. Our deepest sympathies and prayers go out to the Tozer family.

  46. Sharon Butters

    Heartbroken that she is gone. Prayers to her family.

  47. rest well with the angels sweetheart , our prayers are with your family and friends. Thank you for being such an inspiration.

  48. This morning I was with a small group of students from Parker High School and we celebrated Alyson Tozer by talking about what “Carpe Diem” means and how she embodied that phrase. Many, many people are thinking about Alyson and Rich and Teresa today – sending good thoughts, love and prayers. I hope her parents know that Aly’s champion spirit continues to inspire young people to live and love and reach high – to seize the day.

  49. D.L. and Kelly Wilson

    Whjat a breath of fresh air Alyson was whenever we saw her. Rich and Teresa you raised a wonderful young lady who loved the young and the old. My father Ray sat with her and talked about how caring she was. Our love and prayers to you on the loss of your magical daughter.

  50. Thanks to the unending support and love of her parents Rich and Teresa, Aly packed a whole lot of living in her short life, we all will miss her beautiful spirit and we all can learn from her strength and zest for life. My heart and prayers are for her family and those left behind that will miss her, God has blessed her and called her home.

  51. It is a heartbreaking sad news and very hard for me to believe. Last time I saw Aly was very happy and well after the successful lung transplant, you were very courageous, confident, and sweetheart-ed women, you are a true inspiration to lot of women and families. My deepest condolence to the very supportive parents.

  52. Dianne & Julian Muniz

    Rich and Teresa we hold you in our thoughts and prayers during this most difficult time. Aly was such a lover of life and a fighter for the cause and will always be an inspiration to many in this community and the State of AZ who had the opportunity and honor to know and love her as we did. I am still in total shock because I really thought she would bounce back like she always did. After visiting with her a few weeks ago we had such high hopes for another successful transplant. Aly was so loved by this community and it will not ever be the same with her passing. Rest in Peace beautiful Aly because now you are reigning in the highest of royalty there is.

  53. Sad to hear about this person being lost at a young age. I saw on Dateline NBC that Lung Transplants were tried on one girl also had this condition, but the Transplantation was not successful and she died later. Just no easy way to help with a condition like this, I do hope something can be found soon.

  54. Aly, you were a beautiful gift from Heaven for all of us to cherish!
    Teresa and Rich, Thank You!!!

  55. Sending my heartfelt thoughts and prayers to the Tozer Family.

  56. So sorry for your loss, and this touches my heart and so close yo my heart because my nephew has CF and recently spent months in usf hospital and alomost died but God had other plans and we are continously going there meeting with lung transplant team and recently we were told we dont need to go back for another year, praise God.So we know your pain and pur heart goes out yo you for your loss.We know someday we to will have to face this.But trust Gods plans.Your in our thoughts and our prayers.God Bless

  57. Rich I am so sorry to hear of the loss of your daughter. What a beautiful young lady. Such a sad day for you and your wife. I know the loss you feel. I lost my youngest daughter when she was just 10 years old. I write this with many heartfelt tears of pain. Rich, God bless you and your family in the many days ahead. God will give you the strength you need.

  58. I had the privilege of meeting Alyson once and was so impressed by her beauty inside and out. The world was a better place because of her. My heart goes out to you Rich and Teresa, my thoughts and prayers are with you.

  59. Don Rountree

    To know Aly is to love Aly. She is no longer suffering and for that I am grateful. Yes, she is an angle and is watching over us. I am gratefully to have known her and will always share her story of courage. John Wright, that is a wonderful article, thank you! Aly RIP.

  60. Red and I had the privilege of watching Alyson go from a twinkle in Rich and Teresa’s eye and blossom into a beautiful, kind, and amazing young woman. No words can ease the unspeakable pain of losing such a being on this earth. We can only acknowledge the multitude of blessings we’ve received from her while she was here. Thank you for this wonderful tribute. A beautiful love story.

  61. I went to high school with Rich many years ago. My heart goes out to him and Teresa; as the mother of 3 grown sons, I cannot image his pain. Rich and Teresa – I am so sorry for your loss. She was a beautiful young women and I can see by the responses above – very much loved.

  62. Lawny Reese-Caracci

    What a loss to the younger Parker and AZ communities and to ALL. This young girl had so much more to give. Alyson Tozer, a beautiful, smart, positive and talented young lady. To have her energy for life while going through her struggle with cystic fibrosis, makes us realize that we dont have things so bad and need to live life to its fullest while we are blessed with life. Even though some of us didnt know Alyson, we felt like we knew her. She really touched many peoples hearts in a positive way. She will never be forgotten. What an Angel Heaven has been blessed with. Crossroads Cafe and Bobby D’s Diner.

  63. Anthony Olague

    My deepest sympathy to Teresa and Rich. It was truly a blessing to be Aly’s 6th grade teacher. She touched my life and those of her classmates over many years. Aly will be remembered always for her strength, positive attitude, and compassion. God has recalled his angel. Rest in Peace, Aly.Mrs. O

  64. I am sorry about her passing. God has a new angel. I first met her at Victoria’s wedding. My wife, daughter and I sat with you at the table.

  65. I went to High School with Aly we also attended the same church for a short time. She was a wonderful person and I’m grateful that I had the pleasure of knowing her. My prayers and sympathies go out to her family.

  66. Jane Kendall

    My condolences to her family and friends. Rest easy with our Lord Aly.

  67. Chuck and Judi Brandt

    Dear Lord, thank you for the gift of such an amazing Alyson! Thank you also for her wonderful parents Teresa and Rich! What beautiful caring people .
    Our prayers and thoughts are with you.
    We are so very very sorry for your loss.

  68. What a beautiful and amazing young woman. My condolence to Rich and the Tozer family.

  69. We are so saddened for your loss of your beautiful Angel. She was so brave, so strong and so lovingly beautiful. Her wonderful spirit leaves us a huge impact on our lives. God Bless you both. Jeanne and Andrew Apodaca

  70. John, Thank you so very much for this heart touching article. Aly loved you so very much. Aly loved her community. She was so very proud to call Parker her home. Her proudest moments were that of being Miss La Paz and representing it at every chance she got. We are broken and lost but we know in time Aly will guide us through. All Aly ever wanted was to make a difference. I don’t know if she ever realized how much of a difference she actually had made in the lives of everyone she met, but now we do. Thank you all for your love and support.

  71. “BARBIE”.. Watch for a NEW ANGEL…

  72. May God bless you, Rich and Teresa, and all your family and friends. I’m still reeling from the shock of hearing this horrible news. Horrible for those of us who are left behind to mourn Aly’s death but so wonderful for Aly. She’ll never be in pain, in want, or short of breath ever again. As much as it hurts to realize Aly is indeed gone, just think how joyful God and the angels must be getting to have her all to themselves for eternity. Be at peace though for one day, we will all be joined together again breathing happily ever after 🙂 Love and hugs. Gwen

  73. R.I.P. Aly… You were a joy to care for, always had a smile despite what you were going through. You will be missed and forever left your mark on the hearts of many. God bless and my deepest sympathies to her parents.

  74. Rich and Teresa i have known you since i moved to Parker 29 years ago and you welcomed me and my new family as if we were lifelong friends. Now my heart is breaking for you. Aly was the young lady that every parent would be proud of. I wish there were some magic words to say that would lift this pain and burden from the both of you. All i can say is that you are loved by the entire community and we are here for anything you need. Aly will never be forgotten, always remembered as a bright sprit that we were fortunate enough to witness. Love to both of you. RIP Aly.

  75. I want to think Aly is now running on streets of gold with perfect lungs.

  76. Wow How Sad… It Just Seems Like Yesterday We Took You To Phoenix By AAA…. Another Beautiful Angel Going Up To Be In Heaven N Watch Over Us…… My Prayers n Condolences To The Tozer Family….. You Will NEVER EVER Be Forgotten….. We Love You Beautiful…..

  77. Claudia Stewart-Seechoma

    To my friends Rich and Theresa, you raised one amazing beautiful young lady. For such a young lady, she accomplished so much. Every time I would see her, she always left a lasting impression on my heart. I enjoyed watching Aly growup and the both of you are the best parents that any child could have. The two of you were always there to support her and I just loved that. I send you my love and especially my strength, because I too know the hurt of losing a child. My God be with you as he was with me and is still being my strength during times that I need it. Keeping you in my prayers.

  78. God Bless the Tozer family during this time of crisis — so sorry to hear this news.

    Peace and Comfort Rich and Theresa

  79. GOD BLESS YOU RICH AND TERESA..R.I.P. ALYSON.
    ED,CLER,FRAN,EDWIN III, STEPHAINE MURRAY

  80. Dearest Friends, Family & the Parker Community,
    It is hard for me to express our gratitude and amazement for the abundant love and support we are receiving. Aly Tozer became the person that she was because of all of you. YOU inspired her. You gave her a home that she loved and respected. Aly was so very proud of her community , and when asked, would boast about it, with the biggest smile on her face. She was your biggest fan!

  81. My deepest sympathy to the friends and family of Aly. Sending love & prayers.

  82. Michele Fitzgerald

    Rich and Teresa….please know you are both in our thoughts as you struggle with this terrible loss…Love you guys..Bill and Michele Fitzgerald

  83. Robert McCormick

    May eternal peace be with you and a cure come soon for others

  84. Aly was a amazing person and the sad thing is, is that she was related to me

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