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Ella Mae ‘Toni’ Swanson

FARMINGTON – Ella Mae “TonI” Swanson, 98 years young passed away peacefully with her daughter, Nancie, by her side in Farmington, Missouri. “Toni” as she was known by all of her dear friends, was born on October 7, 1925, to Carles and Mirtie Toney in Christopher, Illinois. Her mother died when Toni was 2 years old, and she was raised by her loving grandparents, Jacob and Alta Bowling. She graduated from Christopher High School at age 16, was a member of the National Honor Society, and was crowned Homecoming Queen in her Senior Year. One of her most memorable tributes was when Christopher High School invited her and her husband back for their Homecoming Parade and Dance in 2013 and she was honored as Homecoming Queen again. She attended Lockyear College in Evansville, Indiana, and was employed in Dayton, Ohio, tracking planes in the Pacific during WWII. She was an accomplished real estate agent in both Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, and Baltimore, Maryland, and above all, a devoted and loving mother. She was dearly loved by all of her friends and was always a kind, compassionate, generous, and gracious lady. Toni retired from State University of New York in Geneseo, New York, at age 55 and moved to Sarasota, Florida, where she worked at an assisted living facility as Secretary to the Director. She moved to Ironwood Golf Community in Bradenton, Florida, and became an avid and accomplished golfer with two holes in one on her scorecard. She put her golf clubs back in her bag one final time at age 94, but never missed a morning watching the players tee off on the first hole from her lanai at her condominium.

Toni married Lt. Donald Mabrey the day he graduated from US Marine Corps Flight School in 1944 when she was 18 years old and they spent 27 wonderful years together until his untimely death in 1971, at age 47. Their union produced four children, Jeffrey, Donny, Mark, and Nancie and they traveled across the United States while Don was in the US Marine Corps. Donny and Jeffrey passed away early in life with Donny killed in a tragic auto accident. Toni and Don settled in Geneseo, New York, where Mark and Nancie attended high school and where Toni found her “special place” in their lake cottage which Don remodeled into a permanent residence. After living the single life for 21 years, Toni married Charles “Chuck” Markham who she met through mutual friends in 1992 and they spent 12 years together playing golf and dancing the night away until his death in 2004. In 2006, she met Myke Swanson, and they soon became renowned dance partners at Ironwood and enjoyed almost daily golf games and they married in July of 2007. In May of 2022, Toni and Myke moved to Cedarhurst Assisted Living in Farmington, Missouri, to be closer to her daughter, Nancie. While there, Myke suffered a stroke and passed away on January 28, 2023. They spent 16 wonderful and fun-loving years together.

Toni is survived by her loving and devoted daughter, Nancie (Dave) Klein of Farmington, Missouri, and her son, Mark (Linda) Mabrey, of Evansville, Indiana, her sister, Sue Martin of West Frankfort, Illinois, a grandson, Adam (Ashly) Howe, of Evansville, Indiana, and several nieces and nephews.

She is predeceased by her two children, Don Allan Mabrey (2), Jeffrey Mabrey (1), her first husband, Don Mabrey, her second husband, Chuck Markham, and her third husband, Myke Swanson. She was a member of Unity Church in the Woods in Sarasota, Florida, and the United Congregational Church of Christ in Bradenton, Florida, where she was a proud Deacon. She was also a playing member of Pinehurst-Ironwood Ladies Golf Association in Bradenton, Florida.

A memorial service will be held on Saturday, February 17, 2024, at 11 a.m. at the Farmington Christian Church, 201 W. Columbia St., Farmington, Missouri. The burial will be held at the Sarasota National Cemetery in Sarasota, Florida alongside Myke. Memorial Contributions may be sent to Farmington Christian Church or Preferred Hospice, 810 Progress Dr., Farmington, Missouri 63640.

1 Comment

  1. Kate Kingsley on February 17, 2024 at 8:22 am

    I had the good fortune of working with Toni at SUNY Geneseo in the 70’s. We kept in touch over the years at Holiday time. Toni was sparkly and wonderful both inside and out. A true joy to work and play with!! I send my heartfelt condolences to Toni’s family and friends. I know your fond memories will help lift your grief. Love, Kate.

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