Tonya Renee Neal (1966-2018)

Tonya Renee NealWas born February 10, 1966 in Cincinnati, Ohio to the union of Clifford Sr., and Lorretta Neal.  As the third child and only girl of this union, Tonya was considered a special little gift to her family.  Her journey into this world was not an easy one, as she suffered with heart issues at birth.  But the Lord must have decided to use her life as another bright and shining light for all to see.  She was a very happy little girl who smiled all the time and loved to dance.  Her brothers lovingly and jokingly teased her at times for her happy antics and nicknamed her (DUCK).  As her parents moved the family from Cincinnati to California, Tonya grew to love and treasure the times when family and friends would come to visit.  She always had a suggestion about where to go (Disney Land).  She loved California and its warm and sunny weather.  She often said, she could have sworn that she was born there, but that Clifford and Lorretta just brought her back to Cincinnati for a while, so that the family could see that she was a girl. 

Her parents introduced her to the Christ and she was baptized at an early age, when the family joined their Aunt Cleo and the congregation of Morning Star Baptist Church, after they relocated to California.

As she matured to a young woman, she met her first real love, so she said, in Rodo Hines, and to this union she gave birth to a son Rodo Hines Jr.  Love and life continued for Tonya, so that she found a new love relationship with Cornell James and a daughter, LaSummer James, was born.  On her journey through life, Tonya later met and married Cornelius Ross, who departed this life early in their marriage. 

With her life journey continuing, her hand in the Lords, Tonya took on the same profession as her late mother Lorretta Neal, and continued fostering children.  She attended Pasadena City College, where she studied to receive her Foster Care Licensing.  She too, loved children and became a homemaker and family caregiver for the State of California Foster Care System.  This allowed her to care for those left behind – Levita Stoode (Michelle), Dalone Duncan, and Davion Rutherford after the passing of her mother.

As her own children (Rodo and LaSummer) came of age, Tonya became a Grandmother, which was truly a joy to her spirit.  To her grandchildren, Tashie Denike Morris, JaTonya Phyllis, Christian Hines, Ryan Hines, Winter Blue Coleman, Rodo Hines III, and Skylar Appetey (deceased), Tonya was affectionately called “GOBBY” by all of them.  They loved her dearly!

On Friday, February 2, 2018, our Heavenly Father sent an Angel for Tonya, for she had been doing a job here on earth for all to see her dedication to caring.  We know God always has a plan!  She now joins her Parents in the Lord’s home in heaven.  Tonya’s memory will forever be cherished by her two loving children, Rodo and LaSummer, her two brothers, Clifford Neal Jr. (Reggie) and Terrell Leonard Neal (Terry),  her sisters in care, Sarayu Patel, Marquita Renee Neal-Brown, Patricia Clark, Juavana Gallien, , Lorretta McDonald, Chinell Lorretta Neal Lofton, Mayra Murea, Millioniai Lavina Neal Lofton, Special Aunts: Betty Solomon (Thomas), Gwendolyn Midge Griffin (George), Aleene Reese (Alford), Melda Ann Millard (Wayne), and Regena Machelle Burress (Donald), Special Uncles; Albert (Paps) Neal, Albert (Neal) Neal, Gilbert Young, Odell Neal, Ronald Neal, Special Nephews; Reginald Neal and Kevin Neal; four Special God Children; Trefon Jones, Gary Littlejohn, Justin Johnson and ZeniYah Smith and a host of other nieces, nephews and cousins.  To God Be the Glory!

Thelma Lucille Appleton (1911-2018)

Thelma Lucille Appleton died peacefully on February 15, 2018 in Pasadena, California, just 11 days shy of her 107th birthday. Thelma was born on February 26, 1911 on a farm in Jones County, Iowa. Her family made several moves back and forth between Iowa and La Canada, California before finally settling in La Canada in 1924. She graduated from Glendale High School in 1928, attended Glendale Junior College,  and then transferred to UCLA where she graduated in 1932 with a degree in elementary education.

Thelma married Frederic Appleton on August 3, 1933. Both she and her husband began a career as Presbyterian missionaries to the Philippines in 1936 that lasted until 1972, interrupted only by World War II and from 1952 to 1961, when Frederic served as pastor of St. James Presbyterian Church in San Gabriel, California.

Thelma is survived by her 3 sons, Donald,   Frederic, Jr., and David and daughters-in-law Jackie, Ann, and Laurie. She had 6 grandchildren and 10 great grandchildren. She and her husband retired to Monte Vista Grove Homes in Pasadena in 1975.  Frederic passed away in March of 2004. A memorial service at Monte Vista Grove Homes is pending.

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