Antoinette Marie Richardson

Antoinette "Toni" Marie (Freitas) Richardson, 78, of Great Falls, died of natural causes Tuesday, Feb. 26, at a local hospital.

Cremation has taken place under the direction of Croxford Funeral Home. A memorial service and mass are Thursday, March 14, at Lady of Lourdes.

Toni passed quiety with her family by her side. She was born Jan. 3, 1935, to Benjamin and Mary Freitas near Boston. She joined six older brothers and sisters and as the years went by, four more children were born to this union. Life was not easy growing up in this large family, and when she turned 18, she joined the Air Force, leaving home and never looked back. She became the secretary to the commander at Eglin AFB, complete with high security clearance. During her tour in the Air Force, she met Airmen Walter "Rich" Richardson, and they were married June 16, 1957. After her discharge from the Air Force, she focused her energy on her family and faith.

To this union, three children were born, and together Toni and Rich raised their three children, Robert, David, and Lisa quite literally all over the world. Rich remained in the Air Force and was often away on duty assignments, sometimes not even on the same continent, and she shouldered the job of raising the family and managing the household alone. At other times, she and the kids were able to join him in different countries. Her strength, grace and sense of adventure became her hallmark.

She was very talented and creative, crafting centerpieces, holiday decorations, ice skating costumes, and many beautiful banners for the Lady of Lourdes altar. Her faith was very important to her, and she was a true prayer warrior. If you were on her prayer list, you knew that she would be walking to the church every day, rain or shine, to offer up prayers and light candles on your behalf. Some people were on that list for years, and she was faithful and never missed a day. Her grandchildren affectionately called her Grandma Angel because she lived out her faith daily. She was always busy, active in her church, active in the community and she loved to go for walks. She clogged, played the piano and guitar, ice skated and even took up roller blading after she retired. She had a great sense of adventure, and in later years, that led her to many travels and pilgrimages to Germany, Mexico, Vatican City, the Holy Land, Egypt and her last big trip was to Disney World – Japan with her daughter Lisa.

In recent years, her health began to fail, keeping her closer to home, but she continued to attend church and keep tabs on her kids and grandkids. Our Grandma Angel has at last earned her wings.

Toni is survived by her husband, Rich of Great Falls; sons Robert (Debbie) Richardson of Trenton, Ga., and David (Jamyne) Richardson of Conrad; daughter Lisa Richardson of Great Falls; grandchildren Alida, Amber, Robin, Heather, Sarah, Sierra, Jayde and Abby; and great-grandson Porter.

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Published in Great Falls Tribune on Mar. 5, 2013