On May 23, 2023, Toni Annette (Dickens) Lester passed away at the age of 67 in Huntsville, Alabama. Although Toni battled health issues for many years, she was strong and resilient, even in her final days.
Toni was born on November 2, 1955 to James and Frances Dickens in Huntsville. As a child, she enjoyed playing dress-up, dancing at Ann’s, and bowling at her Daddy’s bowling alley. She especially loved getting to tag-a-long with her big sister Pat.
Toni graduated from Lee High School in 1974, and enjoyed a long career in banking. She began as a bank teller at Henderson National Bank while still in high school, worked many years at AmSouth Bank, and then retired from Regions Bank in March 2016. During her 40+ year career, her colleagues became family, and Toni treasured those relationships her entire life.
Toni met Lee Lester at a Lee High School football game in 1971. Determined to see her again, he found her number in the school directory and asked her out for the following night. They dated for several years, then married on September 3, 1977 in Huntsville. They had two children, Lauren and Brandon, and they most recently celebrated their 45th wedding anniversary. They loved cruising the Caribbean and spending time at Sandy Acres on the Gulf Coast.
Toni was preceded in death by her parents, James and Frances (Burgess) Dickens. She is survived by her husband Lee Lester; daughter and son-in-law Lauren and Drew Sanderson and their three girls; Sadie, Sophie, and Sydnie; son and daughter-in-law Brandon and Ashley Lester and two grandsons Aiden and Ethan; sister and brother-in-law Pat and Jim Thomas; and niece and husband Christy and Min Cha and their three children: Zoe, Will, and Madison.
Toni was a devoted daughter, sister, wife, mother, Mimi, aunt, and friend. Nothing made her happier than making those around her happy. Her selflessness was unmatched.
Toni’s ultimate joy in life was her family, specifically being Mimi to her five grandchildren. She spent endless hours gardening, cooking, swimming, and playing games with them. She went to great lengths to make them laugh, and the sillier the better. She attended every school and sporting event she could, and was their biggest cheerleader. Together, they shared inside jokes, special songs, and more recently emoji and gif-filled text messages. She connected so deeply with each of them and she never stopped trying to make them feel special. Although it’s impossible to imagine a world without her in it, we have immense comfort knowing that her love was unconditional and strong enough to last a lifetime.
A celebration of life ceremony will be held at Berryhill Funeral Home on Saturday, May 27th from 3 – 5PM. In lieu of flowers, the family asks that donations be made to Clearview Cancer Institute through the Russel Hill Cancer Foundation. CCI and its incredible staff supported and encouraged Toni through her 17-year cancer journey.