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Darlene Mae (Bartlett) Davis Toney, 89, of Decatur, passed away peacefully Monday, February 27, 2023. She was born May 19, 1933, in Penn Township, Cass County, Michigan, the eldest daughter of Henry and Beulah (Green) Bartlett. On August 16, 1951, she married (and later divorced) Ray W. Davis. On June 1, 1963, she married Jay W. Toney, who preceded her in death in 1998. She lived most of her life in Penn Township, and was born in the homestead house of her great-great grandfather, Bela Lincoln.
Darlene was known far and wide as “The Card Lady.” Over the course of more than sixty years, she sent out an estimated 100,000 greeting cards– birthday cards, holiday greetings, and cards for special events. She sent cards to nearly every state in the United States, as well as countries on six of the seven continents around the world. Hundreds of people were touched and encouraged by her many cards, letters, phone calls and other outreach efforts. She was devoted to her family, always in attendance at weddings, showers, graduations, funerals, and family reunions. It was her life’s mission to remind each person that they were important, noticed, and remembered. Darlene genuinely cared about others, and never missed an opportunity to show it, in big ways and small.
In addition, she was a volunteer in several endeavors, most notably Bible studies, church programs, and community service programs. She served for many years as a member of Bethel Community Church of Cassopolis, where she also taught Sunday School, played the piano, and served on the church board and several committees; she had also attended Berrien Center Bible Church of Berrien Center for over 25 years. Darlene had close relationships with several other area churches, making and encouraging many new friends. She loved inviting others to church and church programs, especially ladies’ programs, mission-related programs, prayer meetings, and pot lucks! She invited (and often drove) hundreds of children and teens to Vacation Bible School, Sunday School, and/or Youth programs and rallies over multiple decades.
She volunteered at Cass Medical Care Facility and elsewhere around Cassopolis. She could always be counted on to provide homemade fudge, cookies, “ground bologna” sandwiches, or other goodies whenever she could.
Darlene had been employed variously at Ray’s Meat Market and Miles Laboratories, both of Elkhart, Indiana, Cass District Library, Cassopolis, as well as short stints in factory work and at a soda fountain. Darlene was always busy and on-the-go. In recent years, she had a difficult time slowing down, even earning the nickname “Flash” during her time in physical therapy!
Darlene is survived by her children, George (Sheila) Davis of Cassopolis, Lila (David) Fair of Dowagiac, and Mary (Jeffrey) Fisher of Decatur; seven grandchildren, nine great-grandchildren, one great great grandson on the way, one uncle, Chuck (Grace) Bartlett, of Lynnwood, Washington, dozens of beloved nieces, nephews, cousins, and other relatives, and a host of friends and neighbors. She was preceded in death by her parents, a sister, June (Bartlett) Mellinger, and her husbands, Ray Davis and Jay Toney.
Family and friends will gather Thursday and Friday evenings, March 2nd and 3rd, from 5:00 p.m. until 7:00 p.m. in Wagner Family Funerals Connelly Chapel, 202 North Broadway Street, Cassopolis. Funeral services will be held Saturday, March 4, 2023 at 11:00 a.m. in the funeral home. She will be laid to rest beside her husband, Jay W. Toney in Young’s Prairie Cemetery in Penn Township, Michigan.
The family prefers contributions in memory of Darlene be made to the family or a charity of the donor’s choice.
Arrangements have been entrusted to Wagner Family Funerals Connelly Chapel, Cassopolis. Please share a memory or a message online: wagnercares.com.