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Fri, Feb. 28

Friends, colleagues gather to say goodbye to local woman

Last week, friends and co-workers gathered to mourn emptiness left by the loss of 44-year-old Antonia "Toni" Lynn Lucario, who passed away on Oct. 9.

The ceremony was held on Wednesday, Oct. 19, at the Canyon Star at the Grand Hotel, where Toni worked as Director of Sales and Marketing since July of 2003.

A tree planting followed near the sun room by the pool ­ Toni's favorite place, to indulge "her one vice," said Grand Manager and Toni's boss, Steve Paul. An aspen was chosen because of Toni's love for the groves along Route 180 into Flagstaff.

Those closest to her spoke of her life in bold terms ­ vibrant, adventurous, gutsy and straightforwardly honest ­ and said she had influenced them to live more fully.

"She taught me how to never miss an opportunity," Paul said. "She spoke her feelings, lived her dreams and left all that she came in contact with better."

He noted at the beginning of his remarks that the service was starting late.

"Considering Toni's and my relationship, it's fitting," he said.

He said that Toni stood out from the beginning, the only Texas applicant in a pool of Arizona residents. She defied expectations by being a woman, not a man as they had assumed. Her passions could be summed up in six words, Paul said. These were family, friends, food, fun, faith and France.

"Family was number one," Paul said. "If there was anything exciting to be done, Toni would take her kids and try it."

He said that a college trust will be established for her three children ­ 11-year-old Quinn, 13-year-old Teal and 15-year-old Jake.

"I want to make sure her greatest wish in life comes to pass," he said.

Rebecca Southard recalled Toni as "my boss, my mentor and my dear friend."

"She was one of the most fearless and bravest people," she said. "She knew what was important to her. I'm a better person for having known her.

Thank God for a woman I am soproud to call my friend."

Patrick Clark performed a piece on the violin ­ the theme from the movie "The Red Violin," which Toni had been urging him to learn.

Rick Wiles, pastor of the Grand Canyon Baptist Church, officiated, urging friends and family to accept the challenge in Toni's life.

"Toni's canvas is complete," he said. "We are challenged by the idea that we still have the opportunity to work on our canvas of life. Be that original. Leave your mark so that when we're gone, the people left behind will stand and say 'Thank you.'"

Paul said that there will be a formal tree dedication in the spring, to be attended by Toni's children. He said the education trust fund will be presented to them at that time. If you want to help, contact the Grand at 638-3333.

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