Gussie Merle Tonne

April 15, 1925October 26, 2018
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Gussie Merle Newberry Tonne crossed Heaven's gates and was reunited with family and friends on October 26, 2018 at age 93.

Visitation: 7-9pm, Friday, Nov. 2 at Shannon Rufe Snow Funeral Chapel, 6001 Rufe Snow Dr., Ft. Worth, TX 76148. Funeral Service: 10:30am, Saturday, Nov. 3 at Davis Blvd. Baptist Church, 5408 David Blvd., North Richland Hills, TX 76180. Committal Service: 11:30am, Monday, Nov. 5, at DFW National Cemetery, 2000 Mountain Creek Pkwy, Dallas, TX 75211.

Gussie was born in Goodnight, Texas to Beulah and Stacey Newberry, the first of their five children. Her dad was the postmaster and owned the general store. She exemplified responsibility and a strong work ethic from an early age. Her paternal great-grandmother dared her to try new things, to pursue education and to travel. She lettered in high school basketball, played the piano and always sang in the church choir. She met her husband Alvin Tonne in 1943 at West Texas State College during her freshman year. He was on campus as an Army-Air Force cadet in Training for WWII. When she felt called to help in the war effort, she transferred to Baylor Dallas for nurses training. An aversion to blood (and a marriage proposal) cut short her medical studies, but she later used that knowledge as a certified Red Cross instructor. She and Alvin married in May of 1944 and began traveling. His Air Force career moved them 13 times to locations around the US and to Okinawa for a two year tour-of-duty. Each new location fueled her curiosity for history and cultures that she shared with family, friends and foreign exchange students as she explored God's world.

While raising four children she still found time to lead children's choir, play piano for worship services, volunteer as a school nurse, help establish mission churches and chair the Officer's Wives Club. With all their children in school she returned to college for a BA in education and began a 23 year career teaching English at Belleville Township High School West in Illinois. She loved the kids and especially loved teaching them to express themselves through vocabulary and creative writing. After earning her masters degree, she served as a presenter at annual meetings of the National Teachers of English, as a curriculum compliance evaluator of school districts in Illinois, on the board and president of Fellowship of Baptist Educators and on the board of the Illinois Baptist Children's Home where she focused on the needs of residents at Angel's Cove Maternity Center.

After retiring in 1990 she had more time to volunteer and travel. First was England and everything Shakespeare. Then it was two months in Nigeria building a composite curriculum for a mission school and teaching the teachers how to use it. Then it was Holland and Germany to visit their exchange student. A choir mission tour took her to Ecuador a few years earlier. She managed a return to Okinawa and Taiwan when their son was stationed there. She and Alvin returned to Texas in 2007 to be closer to family. She will be missed by all those she touched as a mom, teacher, a mentor and a friend.

She was preceded in death by her college sweetheart husband, Lt. Col. Alvin Tonne (Retied USAF) of Grapecreek, Texas; her parents; brother, L.S. Newberry, Jr.; sister, Melba Wood and husband, Gerald Wood; son-in-law, Russ Sparger. She is survived by children: Andrew Tonne, and wife, Betsey; Cynthia Steen and husband, Gary; John Tonne and wife, Kerry; and Judy Sparger; Grandchildren, Jon Robert Tonne, Amy Tonne Wood, Stacey Steen, Megan Steen Johnson, Mat Tonne, and Dean Baumann; Sisters, Doris Gifford and Vivian Pittman and husband, Bill; 5 great grandchildren and numerous nieces and nephews.

In lieu of flowers, memorial donations may be made to the Illinois Baptist Children's Home by visiting or to The Fellowship of Baptist Educators by visiting


  • Lt. Col. Alvin Tonne, Husband
  • Leonard S Newberry, Father
  • Beulah Mae Thompson Newberry, Mother
  • L. S. Newberry, Jr, Brother
  • Melba Wood, Sister
  • Gerald Wood, Brother-in-law
  • Russ Sparger, Son-in-law
  • Andrew & wife, Betsey Tonne, Son
  • Cynthia & husband, Gary Steen, Daughter
  • John & wife, Kerry Tonne, Son
  • Judy Sparger, Daughter


  • Visitation Friday, November 2, 2018
  • Funeral Service Saturday, November 3, 2018
  • Committal Service Monday, November 5, 2018

Gussie Merle Tonne

have a memory or condolence to add?

Anita Doermann

October 31, 2018

Words can't express our sympathies and at the same time there are so many memories of Gussie flooding my mind. She was such a strong force and a fearce Christian. Will always have great love and respect for her and her example. Thank you for sharing her with so many. Love and sympathies to you all

Chuck & Anita Doermann
Freda Woodrome

Vivian Pittman

October 29, 2018

Our thoughts, love and prayers are with you in the loss of our dear sister.
Vivian and Bill Pittman