Antoinette (Toni) Louise Knapp, 91 of Poughkeepsie, NY passed away peacefully in her sleep at her home on September 23, 2013. Born in Patterson, New Jersey on October 13, 1921 she was the daughter of Joseph and Annunziata DeBello. In Patterson, she attended St. Boneventure Catholic School from K to grade 10. At age 17, she moved to Poughkeepsie with her mother while her father worked as a Journeyman taking whatever jobs he could find during the Great Depression. Taught by her mother, who was a professional seamstress, Toni worked as a seamstress in the "Ladies' Undergarment factory" on Main and N. Cherry St., and also in the "Ladies Pocketbook and Handbag Factory" on Academy and Church St. On July 21, 1944, at Holy Trinity Church in Poughkeepsie, Toni married John Guy Knapp, a staff Sergeant in the U.S. Army Air Corps stationed at an air force base in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, during World War II. Toni joined her husband in Oklahoma City and volunteered her services as a Nurse's Aide for the Army Air Corps until her husband's discharge in 1946. Toni and her husband purchased a house in Poughkeepsie shortly thereafter and raised 5 children at that location. Sons; Edward and John Jr. and daughters; Nancy and Frances. A third son; Thomas died in 1973 and her husband John Sr. passed away in 1983. When Toni's 5th child has started school; Toni returned to school herself and completed her education. She attended "Night School" at Poughkeepsie High School and received her High School Diploma. Then she attended Dutchess Community College as a part time student, finally earning enough credits for completion of requirements for medical assistant in 1975. Toni was employed by Vassar Brothers Hospital as a Nurse's Aide in the 1950's. In the late 1950's, she worked at Marian College, (later called Marist), an all male private institution at that time, (which provided academic training and education for the candidates studying to become "Marist Brothers.") In 1957, Toni became the "Dorm Housemother" to the 1st 40 students not studying to become Marist Brothers, as Marion College started its transition to become Marist College, a public academic institution, still an all-male institution. "Toni's Boys" persuaded her to become the 1st female cheerleader at the college. Toni led cheers for the basketball and crew teams through the 1957 to 1961 sports years. She handed out fresh towels to the ball players and brought hot coffee to the crew teams at the old Marist Boathouse. In 1961, as Marion College became Marist College, Toni was named "Women of the Year", and appeared in the very first Marist College yearbook. She yielded her "Cheerleading" to the younger female volunteer's and then transferred her employment to the Marist Brothers Residence house at our Lady of Lourdes High School where she served as their cook until her retirement in the late 1970's. Toni was a devout communicant and member of Our Lady of Mt. Carmel Church and parish from 1947 until her passing. She volunteered her time and services on many committees and parish programs. She often cooked full meals at home and brought them down to the rectory for the priests and pastor to enjoy. In the 1970's Toni served as the representative of Our Lady of Mt. Carmel Parish as all religious denominations in the area collaborated for the construction and dedication of the "Interfaith Tower" building on Washington and Mansion Streets. Toni served as a "Eucharistic Minister" into the 1990's and received the "Salt of the Earth" award from Our Lady of Mt. Carmel Church. She attended church functions until 2012 when she could no longer stand nor walk. However, she still participated in "prayer Lines" until her passing. Toni leaves behind her 4 surviving children, all in their 60's as well as 6 grandchildren and 4 great-grandchildren and many nieces, nephews and cousins in Patterson New Jersey. In the house and in the neighborhood she was known as "Gran-ma" to all. She will be sadly missed by her church, family, friends and all who knew her as just "Toni". There will be no calling hours; a mass of Christian burial will be celebrated on Thursday September 26, 2013, 9:30am, at Mt. Carmel Church with burial to follow at St. Peters Cemetery. Arrangements have been entrusted to Joseph J. Darrow Sr. Funeral Home, 39 So. Hamilton Street Poughkeepsie, NY 12601. (845)452-1840. Visit our website at darrowfuneralhome.org to sign the guest book.
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