Edna May Tatonetti, 93, of Ft. Lauderdale, Florida passed away Wednesday, April 4th, 2019.
Born December 21st, 1925 in Canton, Ohio, Edna was the daughter of the late Morgan Lewis and Minnie Elvira (Cummins). She had two sisters, Anne Lewis and Theresa L. Reitz, and three half-sisters from her mother: Lola Mary Lewis, Nola Jennie Donohoo, and Esther Newsom. Edna’s mother, Minnie, died in 1928 in Canton, Ohio when she was two; her father, Morgan, passed away of tuberculosis in 1935 when she was ten. Edna, known to her father as “Edna May,” shared memories of him throughout her life, including stories of his Welch brogue and beautiful violin playing.
Edna lived for two years with her oldest sister before being brought to the Fairmont Children’s Home in Canton, Ohio. A favorite story of her time there is that she learned to install a light in her locker by reading a book on electrical wiring. Though the matron made her remove it, for a time she had the only light on her floor--she loved to share the fact that “when the electrician came to remove it, he said it was wired perfectly.” She was taken out of the Children’s Home at sixteen by a family who took her in to care for their children. This was a difficult time for Edna as she was only allowed to attend school half days and had little time, money, or clothing. As soon as she turned eighteen, Edna left their house and struck out on her own. She lived in Cleveland, Arizona, and Atlantic City at various times in her early twenties. Entirely self-supporting, Edna made her way through these years by working as a telephone operator and waitress.
Always a reader and thinker, Edna dreamed of getting a college education. When the U.S. government turned down her attempt to enlist because she was too short, she did stretches for the next year until she met the requirement. She had just entered the service when the armistice happened--she was honorably discharged without her shot at college. While that dream wasn’t to be, this sort of ingenuity and independence characterized her entire life.
Edna met Frank C. Tatonetti in Cleveland after the end of World War II while they were on a double blind date . . .with other people. They married in 1949 and relocated to Ft. Lauderdale, Florida in 1953 where they lived the rest of their lives. The two shared many happy years of marriage including buying their first home with Frank’s V.A. benefits in Lauderdale Villas. There they built a close-knit community with other young couples who all worked collaboratively on their houses, had block parties, and raised their families. Edna and Frank loved the balmy Ft. Lauderdale weather, beach weekends, and could often be found dancing and singing--Edna could pick out the harmony to any tune. In their last years together, they moved to a small apartment on the barrier island of Ft. Lauderdale beach, which was one of Edna’s dreams. To the heartbreak of the family, Frank, who was an insurance salesman and eventually manager at Prudential Insurance, died of cancer on September 9th, 1976 at fifty-one.
Edna was always a visionary and a forward thinker. She took up yoga in the late 1960s and practiced every morning until her late 2018 illness, doing headstands until she was 92. Throughout her life Edna was ahead of her time, she read Mother Earth News, made and grew organic foods, composted, and studied and used a range of holistic remedies. Edna walked two miles daily, logging innumerable miles on the Ft. Lauderdale beach and, in later years, at the Galleria Mall. In the last ten years of her life, she was perhaps best known for her ginger cookies, which she would make as a treat for family, Britannia neighbors, and a myriad of other folks who crossed her path.
Along with gifting them a fierce independence, Edna left many other legacies for her family, including memories of picnicking and swimming at Bahia Mar, camping at Myrtle Beach, Jonathan Dickenson, Highlands Hammock, Big Meadows, and Deep Creek parks, and singing together, as well as sharing with them her delight in travel, her joy in food and cooking, her ever-expanding knowledge of alternative medicines, and her deep intellectual curiosity.
If the love of Edna’s first 50 years was Frank, the love of the second half of her life was her lord and savior, Jesus Christ. Edna shared a passionate relationship with her Christian faith, and would tell of messages she was given by the Holy Spirit. She witnessed to passers-by and Britannia condo neighbors, sales clerks and Whole Foods cashiers. Edna had a truly incredible faith relationship that carried her through the many years after Frank’s death.
Edna’s family loved her deeply. She is survived by her son Cam Tatonetti, his wife Debbie, and their children Jason Tatonetti, Cara Tatonetti Pavek, and Josh Tatonetti; her daughter Nancy Tatonetti Lear, her husband Robert, and their son Matthew Lear; her son Dan Tatonetti; her daughter Judy Tatonetti Conner, her husband Mike, and their son Timmy Conner; her daughter Lisa Tatonetti; and three great-grandchildren: Emma Pavek and Harper and Brooks Lear.
While there were many joys in Edna’s 93 years, one of the pains she often shared from her childhood was having to dress in hand-me-downs and ragged clothing during her high school years. With this story in mind, in lieu of flowers the family asks that donations be made to Mary Ann’s Foster Closet: https://maryannscloset.org/