Obituary: Ruth Ellen (Barber) Toner | Obituaries | Seven Days | Vermont's Independent Voice

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Obituary: Ruth Ellen (Barber) Toner 

Published December 13, 2016 at 9:00 p.m.

Ruth Ellen (Barber) Toner, formerly of Chazy, NY and Swanton, and most recently of South Burlington, passed away Monday morning, December 12, 2016, at the UVM Medical Center after a short illness.

Ruth was born in Bronx, NY, March 3, 1926, the daughter of Arthur William and Mary Agnes (Farmer) Barber. The family split time between their home in Forest Hills Gardens and the family farm in Chazy, NY until the late 1930’s, when Ruth, her sister Mary, and their mother settled in Glens Falls, NY after the death of her father. She was a graduate of Glens Falls High School and Boston University, having also attended Middlebury College and briefly done graduate work in English at the University of New Mexico. She also earned a Masters Degree in Counseling from SUNY-Plattsburgh.

After graduating from BU, Ruth worked at WIRI in Plattsburgh, WLNH in Laconia, NH, and KOAT in Albuquerque, writing copy for the then live television ads. She then taught at the Edgewood Park Junior College, in New York, and Moravian College, in Pennsylvania. On October 4, 1958, she married Donald Thomas Toner, Sr., who predeceased her. The couple moved to Vermont to teach at Highgate High School – she taught English, typing, bookkeeping, and shorthand, while he taught math and science. When the school closed in 1971, Ruth moved to a new career working for the State of Vermont, first as an employment counselor in the Department of Employment Security and later as a social worker in the Department of Social and Rehabilitation Services. Eventually, her calling as an educator was too strong, and she returned to teaching business courses, first as a long-term substitute at Winooski and Plattsburgh (NY) high schools, and eventually at Peru (NY) High School, from which she retired in 1993 after twelve years of service.

After retirement, she was active with local chapter of the Vermont Retired Teachers Association, the King’s Daughters, and the Order of the Eastern Star. She was also a member of the regional board of the Vermont Symphony Orchestra and a long-time volunteer at the Northwestern Medical Center.

Ruth is survived by her son, D. Thomas Toner, Jr., of South Burlington, his wife Christina, and their children Max and Katya; and by her two nieces, Elizabeth Beck of Coconut Grove, FL, and Marillyn Earley and her family of Northborough, MA.

The family wants to thank Dr. Marvin Klikunas for his compassionate care over many years, the staff of Pillsbury Manor South for their care over the past six months, and the doctors and nurses of the UVM Medical Center for their care over the last three weeks.

Memorial gifts in her name may be sent to the Vermont Symphony Orchestra, 2 Church St., Burlington, VT 05401, or to any organization that cares for animals, either wild or domestic.

A Funeral Service will be held Monday, December 19, 2016, at 11 a.m. from The Kidder Memorial Home, 89 Grand Avenue, Swanton. The Reverend Father J. Robert Spainhour Rector of Holy Trinity Episcopal Church in Swanton will officiate. The Rite of Committal and Interment will take place in the spring at the family lot in Riverview Cemetery in Chazy, New York.

At the family’s request there will be no public callin hours.

To offer private online condolences please visit:


This obituary was originally published on, which ceased operation in September 2019. The death notice is archived on this website with the permission of the publisher.
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