The following eulogy was given by Lynette Toney on Sunday, June 6, 2010, at a memorial service in honor of her brother, Frank Toney Jr., who died unexpectedly on Sunday, May30, 2010. Frank Toney was a well-loved community member, a Clearlake Oaks native who had been a volunteer firefighter, Caltrans worker and local water board member. Hundreds of people attended his memorial service in the new Lower Lake High School gymnasium.
Like many people, I measure success by how much you have achieved in your life. Many claim success is the size of your house, the balance in your bank account, the degrees you have earned, or your titles. Well ... they're close ...
Success is the size of love in your house. Did you love deeply? Love honestly? And more so, did you show it? Frank did – he loved like there was no tomorrow. He loved his family, his friends, his co-workers and really all people in our community. He showed it by his service to them, by his generosity toward them, by his compassion and tolerance, and by his love, which was displayed through his radiant smile.
Now for your balance ... what that really means is: do you live a balanced life? Do you work hard and play hard? Do you give an honest day at work and continue to after you have earned a living for you and your family? Do you take time to talk to friends and family? Better yet, do you see them regularly? Frank did – he touched people daily (often several times a day) with emails, text messages, phone calls and, yes, even in person. That's more than most people can say ...
Now for education and degrees. As someone who has accumulated some, I can say with all honesty that intelligence is not measured by the letters before or after your name. To be smart means to be wise, which Frank was. It means to have common sense in life, which Frank did. So the degree to which you are smart is measured by the degree to which you used your head, with wisdom and common sense.
Now let's consider titles: Frank is Parker's dad, he is Janet and Dylan's Franklin, he is my mom Sue's first born and her Frankie, he is his proud dad Jim's son, he is his father Frank's Frank Jr., he is his brother Duane's "McGepher," he is my big brother, who I simply called "Bro."
He is called brother of the Moose, firefighter brother, brother of our community, and quite simply, brother to many. He is friend to literally hundreds of people – as witnessed here today – many who claim him as their best friend.
Finally, he is a child of God, just like you and me. With that thought, I will remind you what Frank knows to be true: that we are all equal, coming from the same source. So, love one another.
Without question, Frank far exceeds the measure of success scale. If it were measured from one to 10, he would be off the charts!
In closing, all of you have asked, "What can I do to help?" I hope the answer is obvious: live your life like Frankie did. Be kind, be compassionate, live with equality and justice, serve each other and your community, be an example to our children, be patient and tender to our aged, love one another, and love like there is no tomorrow.
Lynette Toney was raised in Lake County. She lives in Benicia.