Celebration of Life for
Leona "Tooky" Thornhill
The coronavirus pandemic prohibited the family from inviting all who may have wanted to attend Leona’s funeral and burial. A funeral service was held at the Holy Cross Cemetery in Antioch for her California family. Her body was then interred alongside her beloved Sam at Sacred Heart Cemetery in Troy where her Missouri family gathered for the graveside service.
Leona “Tooky” Thornhill
Leona Mary (Witte) Thornhill passed away September 3rd in her home in Antioch, California, surrounded by family. She was 91 years old. If you knew her, you may have called her Tooky, a childhood nickname she kept all her life. She leaves behind a legacy of love for her family, friends, and community.
Leona lost her husband of 52 years, Sam Thornhill, and later her daughter Carolyn Cook. Also preceding her in death were her parents Clem and Agnes Witte and brothers Martin, James, and Joseph Witte, all of Troy, Missouri. She is survived by her California family of son Victor Thornhill (Denise), son-in-law Richard Cook (Stacey) and grandchildren Joseph Thornhill (Taylor), Aimee Thornhill (Paul Zoltie), Sydney (Cook) Patton, Tanner Cook (Traci), Brooke Jensen, and Brayden Cook. Three great-grandchildren also survive her, as do the Gale and Kathy Crouch family of Nevada. In Missouri, Leona is survived by her brother Harold Witte (Nora), sister June Anderson and sister-in-law Sandra Witte. She is also survived by many nieces and nephews.
Leona was born July 16, 1929. She lived her early years on a farm in Ethlyn, Missouri. Her family moved to nearby Troy in the 1940’s, where Leona entered high school. There she met life-long best friends Betty (LaRue) Wegener and Mabel (Dillon) Walton. Leona graduated from Buchanan High School in 1947. That same year she met the love of her life in a Main Street cafe in Troy. The young man, returning home from army service in Europe, stepped off the bus and entered the café where she worked. Leona said the moment she saw him, “I knew I would marry that man.”
Sam and Leona moved to Antioch, California in 1957, following the construction boom. There they raised their children. Sam was an electrician. Leona worked at the Riverview Lodge restaurant and later as a receptionist for Dr. Stotler. She was a devoted member of Holy Rosary and St. Ignatius parishes and a 52-year member of the Antioch YLI, the church’s women’s organization, where she developed lasting friendships. After their children were grown, Leona and Sam traveled much of the country in their RV. Their favorite spot was close to home – Pismo Beach!
After Sam passed, Leona entered a new chapter of her life, moving from Antioch to Brentwood to be near her children and grandchildren. Leona loved to have fun and she taught that to her grandkids, beginning in childhood and continuing through college and beyond. In fact, Aimee and Tanner thought she was the best senior citizen beer pong player they had ever seen. She continued to explore the U.S., mostly with her sister, June, and her YLI friends. She lived the last three years of her life in a small retirement home in Antioch under the loving support of exceptional caregivers. It was there Leona passed. Leona Tooky Thornhill will be remembered as a woman who loved. She loved her husband. She loved her family. She loved her friends. Her defining characteristic was her open heart, which she offered to everyone she knew and met.
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If you care to donate on Leona’s behalf, it will be welcomed by St. Jude’s Children’s Research Hospital. Please click the following link if you choose to donate.
The gallery below is a tribute to Leona Mary Thornhill
from her family and friends.