Frank J. Tonella, 77, of Marquette, died at 3:20 a.m., Wednesday, April 18, 2001 at the D.J. Jacobetti Home for Veterans where he had resided since October of 1998.
Mr. Tonella was born March 30, 1924 in Marquette to the late Frank J. and Mildred (Frei) Tonella, Sr. and had been a lifelong Marquette resident. He was a 1942 graduate of Bishop Baraga High School and then served with the United States Navy during World War II with the Seabees. He spent 29 months in Alaska and the Phillipines.
Frank then attended the Wisconsin Institute of Mortuary Science where he graduated in 1949, returning to work at Tonellas Funeral Home, the family business founded by his grandfather, Carl Tonella in 1893. Altogether, he was employed for over 40 years at the funeral home, sharing ownership with his father and late brother, John Tonella, until assuming full ownership of the funeral home in 1960. He retired on December 31, 1985, but stayed on at the funeral home, serving as a consultant and director until September 1, 1998.
Frank was a member of St. Michael Catholic Church where he was an usher for many years, was a member of Monsignor Nolan B. McKevitt Council 689, Knights of Columbus with honorary life status, was a member of Marquette Elks Lodge #405, a life member of American Legion ost #44, AMVETS and also the Michigan Funeral Directors Association.
Survivors include his wife, Alice L. Tonella of Marquette whom he married on August 2, 1969 in Marquette; three children, James Tonella, Mary Jane Tahlier and Kathleen Boex, all of Green Bay, WI; three step-children, Karen Johnson of Brandon, FL, Peggy Metz of Marquette and Fred (Nancy) Evenson of Holt, MI; 10 grandchildren, 3 great grandchildren; also surviving are several nieces and nephews. Preceding him in death besides his parents were siblings, Robert, John Jack and Carl Tonella and Carol Leary.
A Mass of Christian Burial will be celebrated on Saturday at 1 p.m. in St. Michael Catholic Church with the Rev. Msgr. Jed Patrick officiating. Rev. Nancy Amacher of Messiah Lutheran Church will also participate by offering some personal remarks. Interment will take place at Holy Cross Cemetery. Friends may call at the Canale-Tonella Funeral Home on Friday from 4 to 8 p.m. where members of the Knights of Columbus will recite the rosary at 5:30 p.m., members of Marquette Elks Lodge #405 will conduct a funeral ritual at 6:30 p.m. and a parish prayer service will be recited at 7:30 p.m.
Pallbearers will be Jeff Finger, Travis Evenson, Dan Evenson, Scott Johnson, Jere Stafford, James Laurinaho and Mark Canale. Members of Michigan Funeral Directors Association District 10 will act as honorary escorts.
Those wishing to make an expression of sympathy may wish to consider the Jacobetti Home for Veterans Activity Fund at 425 Fisher Street, Marquette, MI 49855 or St. Michael Catholic Church Memorial Fund, 401 W. Kaye Ave., Marquette, MI 49855.
"Alice, we will always cherish the fond memories the we had with Frank and you. Frank was not only a boss but was a good friend. Frank gave me encourgement and 'wise' information to be a good funeral director, what the values are of serving 'our families' He was a wise and good man The 'tulips' will be a reminder to us that life does bloom and is good. You and Frank have been a part of our life and when we see a tulip we will think of you and Frank and say a prayer. The 'zipper incident' I'm still wondering what impact this has had with me. When I find out, I'll let you know. Alice, All our love and sympathy to you. Love, Jim and Karen and family"
"Dear Alice and Family, Words cannot portray the void I feel with the loss of Frank. Having known him since I was a very young man, his impact on me and my life has been critical. He has been for so many years a mentor to me, a confidant, a colleague, a loyal friend. I am grateful every day for the trust he exemplified by offering me the family business. In doing so, Frank also gave me my future. I pray that I have lived up to his expectations and will continue to represent the Tonella name in an honorable fashion. I appreciated Frank's soft spoken manner in serving families, his smile and his sense of humor. These things will remain in my memory for as long as I live. May the angels lead him into paradise, may the martyrs come to welcome him and take him to the holy city, the new and eternal Jerusalem. Mark Canale"
"Dear Alice, Our thoughts and prayers are with you. Sorry we won't be able to be with you at this sad time, but know we do care and are thinking of you."
"To Alice and Family, We are very sorry to hear about Frank. He was a good man and we have many memories of him over the years. We will see you when we return from Arizona."
"we will miss both of you at DJJ. . tom vallier"
"Dear Mrs. Tonella & Family: Though I never had the honor to know Mr. Tonella, I have nothing but the deepest admirmation him and the profession he carried on in his family name. I only know of the fondest memories of the close friendship that has been shared from our family to yours throughout the years. What I can share to you is this; that Mark Canale has done an excellent service to the community in carrying on your family name. I worked under Mark years ago while attending N.M.U. and I can attest that his ability to assist families with the deepest compassion was transcended from the principals that Mr. Tonella lived every day of his life. The Beaulieu family extends are deepest sympathy and our prayers are with you during this time. God Bless: Chris Beaulieu"
"I really didn't know Mr Tonella, but I do know Mrs. "T" from Headlines Hair Studio where we visited often. I send my deepest sympathy to you Mrs T and your family. You are a very "special person to me." You are in my prayers. Sincerely, Vicki Hamari (from Headlines)"
"FRANK was such a great guy,he'll surley be missed by all who knew him. Deepest sympathy to all his family."
"Alice and family, Our prayers and deepest sympaties. Love, Rob, Cheryl and Robert"
"My sympathies to the Tonella family. I would like to say I have many fond memories of Frank while I had the honor of working with him and Mark Canale during my time working at the funeral home. He would always make me smile as he walked in the room with a simple "How do?" as only Frank could say. He gave me many words of wisdom over those years and I will continue to think of him as I pursue my career in this profession. I will miss him greatly. My thoughts and prayers are with you. Gary V. Borg"
"Alice, my sincere sympathies to you and all of your family in this time of your loss of Frank. I know he loved you and would want you to go with your life and your family. Having just been through this with my dad, I know it is hard but we are survivors and life must go on. Wish I could be there also."
"Ray and Nancy Cayemberg's kids would like to extend our sympathies to Alice and her family. Alice is a dear friend of our mother, Nancy. In March 2000, we were in Marquette for the funeral of our uncle, Russell Bergstrom. It meant a lot to us when Frank and Alice came to the service. Please know that you are in our thoughts and prayers."