Toni Lou


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Toni Lou Baggett

Aug 21 1959 - Mar 31 2007

Toni Lou Baggett, 47, of McKinney, Texas, was greeted on high by waving palms on March 31, 2007. In January 2007, Toni was diagnosed with ovarian cancer and was waging war against this disease at the time of her death. Toni is survived by the loves of her life, husband Billy Glenn Leonard, Jr., and their son Nate Baggett Leonard, a freshman at McKinney High School. Toni was born on August 21, 1959 in Wichita Falls, Texas to Jimmie Lou Osborn Baggett and Edwin David Baggett, both of whom preceded her in death. Toni was raised in Wichita Falls, and not surprisingly to anyone who heard her sing, her first words were in the form of a song. Toni graduated in 1976 from Rider High School in three years. While in high school and college, Toni served as the choir director of Wesley United Methodist Church with her able pianist, her father Edwin Baggett, at her side and her mother in the choir loft. After three years, Toni graduated with highest honors from Midwestern State University in 1979, where she was named “Outstanding Woman of the Year.” After graduation, Toni was awarded a year-long Rotary scholarship to study law at the University of Sheffield in England. Her sponsors at Sheffield Vulcan Rotary Club received their “ambassador” from Texas with wide open arms, for which she was always grateful. In 1980, Toni met her “soul mate”, Billy Leonard, during her first year at University of Texas School of Law in Austin. After they began dating in their second year in law school, Toni and Billy knew they had a genuine connection. Their classmates noticed this bond and elected the Toni and Billy team ballot as officers of the Student Bar Association. Between the end of finals and law school graduation, Toni and Billy cemented that bond in a wedding ceremony in Wichita Falls and honeymoon that continued to the time of Toni’s death. The newlyweds settled in Dallas, where Billy joined the law firm of Strasburger & Price, and Toni was an attorney for the City of Dallas Legal Department. Toni advanced to Dallas Chief Prosecutor. She then became the prosecutor for the City of Plano. Subsequently, she was appointed Chief Municipal Court Judge by Plano City Council. Toni was known as a strict, no-nonsense judge and enjoyed working with the citizens, employees, elected officials, and peace officers in Plano and Collin County. One of her biggest accomplishments on the bench was organizing, implementing, and presiding over the first Teen Court in Plano. Toni was also recognized by the Texas Municipal Courts Association as “Judge of the Year.” Nate, Toni’s 9 ½ pound “sacka taters”, completed the family trio over 15 years ago. Just prior to Nate’s starting elementary school, Toni saw that her family needed her and traded the rigors of her legal career for those of home maker and volunteer—roles she relished. Toni was active in numerous McKinney educational activities—PTAs, fundraisers, and supporting enthusiastically the McKinney High School Lions’ football team. Friday Night Lights was also a reality in the Baggett-Leonard household. Toni, in her own words, compiled the following list of her favorite things: – Flat-topped headed boys, especially Nate – Bald-headed men, especially Billy – Fluffy dogs, especially Angus – My sweet family – My dear friends – Piano music, especially my dad's – Taylor Hicks (Soul Patrol) and Elvis Presley – Movie—It’s a Wonderful Life – Sport—Football – Sports movie—Radio – Team—McKinney Lions – Colors—pink and lime green – God’s guiding hand – Laughter through tears – Food—Italian – Antiques – TV Show—Friday Night Lights and American Idol (tie) – Magazine—People – Anything made with Swarovski crystals – The beasts (especially polar bears) and the children – Pedicures by Brooke – Vintage greeting cards – Cool fall days – Beautiful flowers – Butterflies – Cardinals – Offensive linemen (the unsung heroes) – Rainbows – Watching high school football games, especially when Nate is playing – Billy riding shotgun when Nate is driving – Angus riding shotgun when I am driving – Big hugs – Nate's voice – Nate's artwork Toni was born an “old soul” but possessed the sheer joy of a youth throughout her life. As a child, Toni was drawn to art and antiques and started working at an antique shop at the age of 10. In addition to possessing a keen ear for music and a discerning eye for antiques, Toni had a number of other tangible gifts. Her talents enabled her to succeed in diverse roles, including singer, orator, state champion twirler, chief prosecutor, chief judge—but the roles she treasured most were those of wife, mother, and friend. The sum of Toni included much more than book smarts and artistic talent. Toni was engaging to us and engaged us to celebrate even seemingly mundane activities. Toni loved life, loved people, knew how to have fun and made sure that we were enjoying ourselves as well. Toni’s upbeat personality and warm smile were contagious. She had that rare, and all too unique, gift of making us feel better for simply having come into contact with her. The family will receive friends on Wednesday, April 4th at 7:00 p.m. at Turrentine-Jackson-Morrow Funeral Home, 2525 Central Expressway North, Allen, Texas. In accordance with Toni’s wishes, an informal celebration of Toni’s life will be held on Friday, April 6th at 2:00 p.m. at First United Methodist Church, 315 N. Church St., McKinney, Texas. Toni requested that her friends wear comfortable or casual clothing, particularly bright outfits that reflect their happy times together. Hawaiian shirts, wild and crazy sunglasses, and any attire with pink, green, camo, and bling are especially welcome! Do you have a favorite story about Toni? If so, please bring it so we can include it in an album for Nate. Toni was determined to beat her ovarian cancer, but instead of focusing on herself, she was compelled to help others become more educated about ovarian cancer and the need for early detection. Toni planned to participate as a cancer survivor in McKinney Relay for Life (an American Cancer Society fundraiser) on April 27th. Several teams have formed in Toni’s honor, affectionately nicknamed Toni’s Troops. In lieu of flowers, please consider supporting two causes that Toni felt passionately about—education and early cancer detection. You can donate online to scholarships for higher education at McKinney Education Foundation—Toni Baggett by visiting or by mail to McKinney Education Foundation—Toni Baggett, 510 Heard Street, McKinney, Texas 75069. Donations to McKinney Relay for Life—American Cancer Society, can be made at or by mail to McKinney Relay for Life—American Cancer Society, in memory of Toni Baggett/Toni’s Troops, 5100 Eldorado Parkway, Suite 102 PB #727, McKinney, Texas 75070. If Toni can help save the lives of others, Toni will have beat cancer! But, a friend’s message shows us that Toni’s struggle and the way she lived her life, have even broader meaning: “There is more than one way to save a life. Living but not enjoying life is little or no different than losing that life. Toni's words caught me at the right time to remind me of my enjoy life and not work it away. She helped me decide to get my life back and to me, that's saving a life in and of itself. That's why I shared her website. I wanted her to save two more lives.” Recently, Toni wrote these words to Nate: “I love butterflies, so when you see them, please think of me. Butterflies are like a new life, and it seems that this is the direction I am heading.”
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