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Richard Toenjes

Richard Gerhard Toenjes

Sunday, June 14th, 1931 - Thursday, October 10th, 2019
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Richard Gerhard Toenjes, age 88, of St. Clair Shores died on Wednesday, October 10, 2019 after a brief illness. He was born on Flag Day in St. Louis, Missouri to the late Henry Toenjes, Sr. and the late Olga (nee: Planthold) Toenjes.  He was the third of seven children.

Although Richard was born in St. Louis, he often spoke fondly of his childhood in Flint, Detroit, and Grosse Pointe Park. He began high school at a seminary in Oconomowoc, Wisconsin and later graduated from St. Joseph High School in Detroit. After high school he served in the United States Marine Corps as a guard on a heavy cruiser. After his honorable discharge, he received his Bachelor’s Degree from University of Detroit and his Master’s Degree in Education from Michigan State University.  

Richard dedicated his life to teaching and helping others. He began his teaching career at St. Juliana School in Detroit. He spent the majority of his career teaching in the Warren Consolidated School District from which he retired in 1988. For several years he also worked part time in the evenings at the learning laboratory at Macomb Community College.

His family remembers him as intelligent, artistic, musical, mischievous, feisty and independent. He enjoyed having fun and being with family. Family life meant the world to him. His big, booming laugh will be fondly remembered by all who heard it. His nieces and nephews especially enjoyed seeing him on Christmas in his bow tie, vest and red plaid trousers ready to devour a turkey drumstick.

Richard loved his coffee and you could always find him with a cup in hand: Hot, cold, or lukewarm and always with cream. He liked reading and classical music (especially JS Bach). He played violin and piano, enjoyed skating and cross-country skiing, tennis, bowling and golf. On fun occasions he listened to the Dixieland/jazz music of Bob Scobey and his Frisco Band, a group he discovered during his Marine Corps days.

In the early seventies, Richard co-owned a chicken and rib restaurant called “The Little Red Hen.” He loved ribs and had a special “secret” barbeque sauce recipe.

He was passionate about sailing and the sea. His family spent many happy summer days sailing Lake St. Clair on their Tanzer 22 sailboat. He enjoyed traveling and time spent with family and friends at his cottage in Canadian Lakes and his home in Florida.  

Richard can also be described as an artisan and craftsman. He loved old world art and architecture, castles and churches. Richard designed and crafted many beautiful stained glass windows, lamps, clocks and nightlights. He also helped teach stained glass techniques at the Highland Lakes community arts center in Florida. He was an avid photographer having honed his craft as assistant to a photographer during his teens. As an adult he completed coursework from the College for Creative Studies in photography and for a while experimented with creative developing techniques. Throughout his life he documented his travels and the life of his family on film, slides and movies.  

Richard will be best remembered for his love of family, dedicating his life to teaching and helping others, and his resonating laugh. He cared deeply about others. He was determined, steadfast and finished what he started. Nothing was too hard for Richard to undertake.

Richard is the loving husband of Sally (nee: Hull). Richard and Sally met at the home of mutual friends that was referred to as the “Happy House.” They were happily married for 61 years. He is the beloved father of Sandra and Tim, the cherished grandfather of Jack, Nancy, and Scott and great-grandfather of Hunter, Jamie, and Jaxson. He is the dear brother of Jane, Mary Anne, Tom, the late Henry, the late Gerard and the late Claire Marie. Richard is further survived by many nieces and nephews, extended family and friends.  

A Memorial Gathering will take place on Saturday, October 19, 2019 at St. Lucy Catholic Church, 23401 Jefferson Ave, St. Clair Shores, 48080, from 9:30 am until the time of his Memorial Mass at 10:00 am.  

In lieu of flowers, memorial contributions can be made in Richard’s name to the American Diabetes Association, 20700 Civic Center Dr Suite 100, Southfield, MI 48076 or The Salvation Army USA, 615 Slaters Lane #1112, Alexandria, VA 22314. 

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Service Details

  • Memorial Mass

    Saturday, October 19th, 2019 | 10:00am
    Saturday, October 19th, 2019 10:00am
    St. Lucy Catholic Church
    23401 Jefferson Ave
    Saint Clair Shores, Michigan 48080
    Get Directions: View Map | Text | Email
    9:30 am Memorial Gathering
  • Interment

    Mt. Olivet Cemetery
    17100 Van Dyke Ave
    Detroit, Michigan 48234
    Get Directions: View Map | Text | Email


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Peter James Toenjes

Posted at 02:24pm
I have many memories of my Uncle Dick but by far my best, and most grateful for, was him teaching me how to make stained glass. I would go to his Grosse Pointe Park home and he would spend hours with me. I have made many stained glass window have since taught others. A teachers legacy I suppose.
Thanks again Uncle Dick. Rest in peace.
Peter Toenjes

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