Mary Antonette "Toni" Tillma , 101, passed away peacefully at The Waters senior residence in White Bear Lake, MN on December 2, 2022 . Previous 76 year resident of Schenectady and Niskayuna including 18 years at the Glen Eddy senior residence. Toni moved to Minnesota in 2019 to be near family.
A native of David City, Nebraska Toni graduated from the University of Nebraska in 1942 with a Bachelor of Music Education degree. She was a member of Delta Omicron sorority. After graduation Toni married James E. Tillma. In 1943 they moved to Schenectady where Jim was employed by General Electric.
Toni was gifted with a beautiful soprano singing voice which was heard in concert halls, theaters, churches, and across radio waves. In her hometown the church minister once remarked in a letter she was "one of the most talented pretty girls he had ever known".
Others agreed. At the University of Nebraska Toni performed solos in operas, classical recitals, as well as at several nearby Lincoln, NE churches. Next in Schenectady there were solo programs at WGY radio with the "Sweet Sixteen" choral group, The Schenectady Choral Society and Chamber of Commerce. All in addition to 15 years with the First Reformed Church choir.
Toni reached the awesome high notes in a soprano voice to the amazement and delight of audiences. She could sing hymns as well as classical music. An angel was in church when she sang. Her stage appearances performed with vocal range and technical ability.
She was also a Girl Scout leader, community volunteer, homemaker and knitter. Her wool sweaters, gloves, and caps welcome additions to the Adirondack camp in Lake Pleasant, New York and family in Minnesota. Jim and Toni owned the camp from 1972 to 2015.
Toni loved the New York Metropolitan Opera which she attended, Saratoga Summer Concerts, classical music, Adirondack Mountains, Maine coast and the fabulous dining room meals at Glen Eddy. She had a distinctive dry sense of humor which was used to describe observations in unpredictable manner.
Jim and Toni owned a motor home which they drove to South Carolina, Colorado, and the Pacific Northwest. All of the family dogs went to obedience training with Toni. She was a volunteer at the Speculator, NY information booth. Visitors learned more about the Adirondacks than they ever imagined.
Toni is survived by son Ralph of White Bear Lake, MN, daughter Suzy Montler of Grand Junction, CO, grandchildren Jeff (Becky) of Grand Rapids, MN, Doug (Nicole) of Hugo, MN, Brandon Montler (Jayne) of Sasebo, Japan, Bonner Montler (Jane) of El Cajon, CA plus six great - grandchildren Sam, Ellie, Travis, Jason, Christine, and Brandon. Predeceased by husband of 73 years James E. Tillma, 2 sisters, and her parents Anton and Bertha Skoda formerly of David City, NE.
A special thank-you to Shirley Morehouse and Dick Curtis of Scotia for companionship and assistance. Appreciation to caregivers at Glen Eddy and The Waters of White Bear Lake, MN.
Overriding all of her accomplishments were her love of family and friends. Interment at David City Cemetery, David City, NE.
First Reformed Church of Schenectady
8 North Church Street
Schenectady, NY 12305