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Al and Ann Tonn: A wonderful 65-year love affair

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POSTED May 15, 2017 1:02 a.m.

Al and Ann Toon waltzed through life like Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers. It was a 65-year love affair that ended all too soon with Ann’s passing.

Family and friends celebrated her life at a Lodi church Saturday. 

The choice of songs for the conclusion of their service was one of their favorites, “I Can’t Believe You Love Me,” by Johnnie Matthis.   Other selections of 15 ballads included one by Frank Sinatra, “It Had To Be You!”

At the conclusion of Saturday’s Celebration of Life, guests and family members were asked to tell of their experiences with Ann and Al throughout their lifetimes.  Several told of their wonderful exchanges with Ann. Taking the microphone near the end, I told of Al’s trips to the Bulletin office to see me about one of the bigger than life projects he was working on that particular day involving the identifying of the World Trade Center terrorist attack victims on Sept. 11, 2001  through their dental histories.  Al and I were both members of the Manteca Rotary Club and visited with each other weekly.

Ann would never come into the newspaper building with him, but I would always ask if she was at home.  “No, she’s out in the car,” he would reply.   That was all I had to hear – she was always at his side — as I headed out the door to spend 10 minutes chatting with that wonderful lady, leaving Al standing at the front counter.

Her blonde hair and her total presentation always resembled that of the most beautiful Hollywood star but her demeanor was all her, being sweet and humble.   

Born in 1930 during the Great Depression in Los Angeles, she loved animals and riding her bike she was  a big thrill with her wiener dog “Skippy” tucked in the basket on her handlebars as she rode through her Lynwood neighborhood.  

Eventually, Ann’s parents decided to move to the Central Valley into the farming community of Chowchilla near Fresno.  Her dad raised cotton. She remembered how hot the temperatures could get while picking at the crop as a young girl.

At the beginning of her junior year in high school, Ann went to a boarding school named Lodi Academy where she spotted her future husband. However he says he doesn’t remember her as he was more interested in fast cars and airplanes at the time than the girls.

Al used a box shaped Cushman motor scooter with a top speed of 45 miles an hour go to school –  and that was pushing it.  He rode it for some five miles a day on Highway 99. 

After Ann graduated from the Lodi Academy in 1948, she attended Las Sierra College in Riverside, Southern California.  That’s where she saw Al again, since he had chosen to major in Pre-Dental studies at the same school.  Al decided to go to a freshman mixer to “check out the new girls,” immediately falling head over heels for her. 

Their dating evolved into getting married while he was studying at the University of Southern California School of Medicine.  Ann was later working as a secretary for an insurance executive and Al was busy with dental school, leaving them little time for a wedding let alone a honeymoon.  They opted to elope and get married in a small chapel on the Las Vegas Strip. Their honeymoon was on a passenger train as it rumbled back to Los Angeles. 

That was the beginning of nearly seven decades of a “great and glorious love affair,” as Al describes it. 

They settled in Glendale and lived in an apartment on Chevy Chase Drive just a few blocks from the Voice of Prophecy office, where Ann had worked as one of the secretaries for Elder H.M.S Richards. He was the same minister who had baptized Ann’s parents many years before. 

In 1955 Al graduated from USC as a dentist and was quickly drafted into the U.S. Army.  Ann also received a diploma from USC, titled PHT, defined as “putting hubby through.” They traveled to Ft. Sam Houston for Al’s Officer Orientation course and assigned to the Presidio of San Francisco with them living in Army barracks at the north end of the Golden Gate Bridge. 

Ann found the mournful sounds of the fog horns depressing, so they moved farther north into nearby sunny and fogless Marin County.  After Al’s discharge from the Army with the rank of Captain, they moved to Long Beach where he first practiced dentistry outside the military.

Al received further training at the Los Angeles Children’s Hospital and at the Long Island Jewish Medical Center in New York, becoming board certified in Dentistry for the Handicapped.  They were blessed with two children, James “Jimmy Jet” in 1958 and daughter Susan Elaine “Suzi” three years later. 

They soon moved back to Northern California and settled in the Mountain View/Sunnyvale area where Al opened his practice in Pediatric and Disabled Dentistry and also taught part-time at the University of Pacific School of Dentistry in San Francisco.  He retired after working in Manteca a number of years

Ann always enjoyed traveling with her husband to dental conferences in different cities including New Orleans, Washington, D.C., and New York.  She also enjoyed traveling to Europe, visiting the Shakespeare countryside in England, the Eiffel Tower in Paris, the Leaning Tower of Pisa and the romantic city of Venice.

It wasn’t easy later in life for Ann to walk on the cobblestones when in Venice with her four-wheeled walker, traversing the bridges over the canals.  She is remembered as being a trooper and just smiling and saying that she needed the exercise.  She had further recalled when they took a gondola ride on the Grand Canal to experience all the sights when a storm came up and the waves almost capsized the little gondola.  Docking at one of the hotels in route, they dried off before heading back to their cruise ship.  

Ann began to slow down over the past year and a half with increasing difficulty in her breathing.  Her cardiologist was in the middle of testing and evaluating her heart condition when she fell while shopping fracturing her left femur and hip joint.  The surgery was successful but the next day, May 6, her heart just wasn’t strong enough and gave out after four attempts to revive her.

Al, their son Jim and their grandson, Mickey, were at her bedside and said good bye as she passed on peacefully around 10 a.m. at age 86. 

Like the many who knew Ann, I too will miss her greatly.  

 

To contact Glenn Kahl, email gkahl@mantecabulletin.com. 

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