Tonia Narelle Earley, age 75, of Union Valley, Texas, passed away March 29th, 2023.
Born October 9th, 1947, in Montgomery, Alabama, to Howard James Knabenshue and Greta Helen (Hinkle) Knabenshue, Tonia was the second of four sisters. As an Air Force "Brat," she got to travel the world with her family. Newfoundland was her favorite spot as she could not abide snakes and they were banned from the island! In the 1960s, "Toni" graduated from Surrattsville High School in Maryland and went on to achieve training at the Washington School for Secretaries in Washington, D.C. She eventually made her way to Texas and enjoyed a long career at Varo, Inc. Toni's excellent professional skills enabled her to excel as an Executive Secretary and later as a Buyer at Varo, Inc., IMO, then National Circuit Assembly. She retired from NCA in 2013. It was at Varo, Inc. that she met and married the love of her life, Fred Wayne Earley, and together they later welcomed a daughter, Cassandra ("Cassie"), who was born in 1978. The family eventually settled in Union Valley, Texas, where Toni enjoyed the country life on their ranch, raising farm animals which included the Brahman cattle she found so beautiful and watching them play out in the pasture. At various times, Toni served as Leader for the local 4-H Chapter and, also, as Secretary of the Northeast Texas Brahman Association. Toni was a very loving and giving soul, determined to find the good and light in the darkest of situations. Her sister, Sharon, recalls a time Toni shuttled a friend back and forth to work for months when the person was desperate for transportation. She was also a prankster. When they were younger, she convinced her sister, Coral, to trade Coral’s dimes for Toni’s nickels because they were bigger. She also had lots of fun ideas! When Heather was in Beauty School, for Christmas one year, Toni sent her what must have been a dozen wigs and a muumuu dress. This inspired an impromptu show, with bananas as microphones, to celebrate another great Christmas box from her. An amazing mother, she was always available with a kind voice and a caring heart. She was supportive and made sure her family knew how much they were loved and that she was proud of them. Toni had a soft shoulder for tears and arms made for hugs, which will be missed desperately. The solace is knowing she's hugging her heavenly family now. Trixie and Dixie, her beloved Miniature Schnauzers, who also recently passed away, most certainly greeted her along with other loved ones on the other side of the Rainbow Bridge. She was brought home for Hospice Care on March 24th, where her Daughter, Cassie, her Sisters, Sharon, Coral and Heather, as well as friends and neighbors, (many of whom had helped to watch out for Toni after Wayne's passing), were there to care for her in her last days. It was a blessing for her to be home when she passed, as God and family intended.
After her passing, Cassie, in a crazy miracle Toni surely played a part in, discovered an old placard with Toni's name, the meaning, and a Bible verse on it, on the porch of their house. It describes her perfectly: "Toni..'Priceless'...'If I take the wings of the dawn, if I settle at the farthest limits of the sea, even there Your hand shall guide me, and Your right hand shall hold me fast.'" Psalm 139:9-10 All of Toni's loved ones can rest assured that she is safely Home and celebrating with Jesus, Wayne and all her loved ones there in Heaven. A Remembrance Gathering was held April 15, 2023, in Union Valley, Texas.
Toni was preceded in death by her parents, her husband, Wayne, who passed in August of 2011, their baby girl, Erisa, and her beloved “fur babies.” She is survived by her daughter, Cassandra Earley of Arlington, Texas; her grandson, Tyler Earley of Reynoldsburg, Ohio; sisters, Sharon Nilsen of Vienna, Virginia, Coral Whichard (Kennith Jr.) of Greenville, North Carolina and Heather Stewart (Rick Stewart, deceased) of Germantown, Maryland and their families.